Reduction of Greenhouse Gas and Criteria Pollutant Emissions by Direct Conversion of Associated Flare Gas to Synthetic Fuels at Oil Wellheads

Eric Tan, Yi Min Zhang, Dennis Schuetzle, Orion Hanbury, Robert Schuetzle

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14 Scopus Citations


This study describes the results of a “well-to-wheel” life cycle assessment (LCA) carried out to determine the potential greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emission reductions that could be achieved by converting associated flare gas directly to synthetic fuels at oil wellheads in the US and globally. A Greyrock Flare Gas-to-Fuels™ conversion process at an Ohio oil well was used as the base case for this LCA. The liquid fuel produced directly from associated gas is comprised primarily of premium synthetic diesel with a small amount of synthetic gasoline. In this LCA scenario, the synthetic diesel and synthetic gasoline are blended at 20 and 10 vol% with petroleum diesel and gasoline, respectively. While the synthetic diesel fuel can be used as is (100%), the 20 vol% synthetic diesel blend (with petroleum diesel) was found to significantly improve engine performance, increase fuel economy, and reduce emissions. The direct conversion of associated gas to synthetic diesel fuels globally could reduce emissions of CO2 and CH4 by up to 356 and 5.96 million metric tons/year, respectively, resulting in the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) by about 113.3 and 92.2% (20 year global warming potential) and 73.8 and 50.7% (100 year global warming potential) for synthetic diesel and gasoline fuels when compared to petroleum-derived gasoline fuels, respectively. Likewise, diesel criteria emissions could be reduced globally by up to 23.3, 0.374, 42.4, and 61.3 million metric tons/year globally for CO, particulates, NOx, and hydrocarbons, respectively. The potential economic benefit of this approach is that up to 5.30 and 71.1 billion liters of synthetic fuels could be produced each year in the US and globally from associated gas, respectively.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)305-321
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Energy and Environmental Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, The Author(s).

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-71541


  • Associated flare gas
  • Criteria pollutant emissions
  • Direct synthetic fuel production
  • Economic benefits
  • Flare emissions
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Vehicle emissions
  • Well-to-wheel life cycle assessments (WTW-LCA)


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