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Texas Researchers Pursuing Synthetic Fuel Conversions in Gas Patch

The University of Texas at Arlington (UT Arlington) and 1st Resource Group Inc. of Fort Worth, TX, are collaborating to commercialize a process to convert natural gas to synthetic fuel at a cost they said is "lower than current market rates."

UT Arlington researchers have designed a portable conversion unit that transforms natural gas from the field for use as clean-burning synthetic fuels. 1st Resource has partnered with Fort Worth-based UMED Holdings Inc. to aid in commercializing the patent-pending process. 1st Resource said it plans to deploy conversion units in domestic and international gas fields to yield synthetic jet fuels and diesel.

The application is expected to be particularly useful in stranded gas fields, on sites where gas must be vented or flared and when it is not economically viable to move gas to a pipeline due to adverse market conditions, the researchers said.

"We believe the reception we will receive on Wall Street will be favorable," said UMED Chair Randy Moseley.

UT Arlington President James D. Spaniolo said the licensing agreement is a milestone in the university's relationship with business and industry. "This advancement demonstrates how university research can respond to market demands," he said.

1st Resource CEO Douglas McKinnon said he approached UT Arlington researchers to determine if a portable gas-to-liquids processing unit could be developed that could be easily moved from one well to the next. "The researchers proved it could be done," McKinnon said. "This process starts to solve the rising transportation costs we all face."

COO Gary Fewell said low gas prices and abundant reserves make the technology particularly attractive. "When you have a rancher sitting on a natural gas well and that gas can be converted to an energy source like jet fuel, he is suddenly sitting on a gold mine."

The cost savings in transporting jet fuel alone could be substantial, Fewell said, because the conversion happens at the natural gas well site and there is no need for any additional refining steps as there is to extract products from oil.

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