NPRP-4 Cycle

Funding Agency

Project No


Project Duration

Jan. 2012- Jan. 2016

Total funding

US$1,043,000; Prof. Nimir portion US$618,000

Project Title

Utilization of MRI and NMR in the Visualization of Fischer­-Tropsch Synthesis Reaction Behaviors

 Project Description


The Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis, with reactant molecules, surface adsorbed intermediate species and typical products shown


Natural gas processing has become a major source for ultra-clean fuels and value added chemicals, so much so that the energy market considers it as an important part of the energy mix. Gas-to-liquid (GTL) facilitates the conversion of natural gas (methane) to these valuable products using the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) chemistry, which is considered as the heart of the GTL technology. The design of an efficient FT reactor requires detailed assessment of the heterogeneous and highly exothermic reaction environment both at the micro and the macro levels.


Therefore, the visualization of the in situ behavior of the reaction is extremely important for the measurement of the diffusion behavior, mass and heat transfer limitations as well as the hydrodynamic of the FT reactor bed. In this project, we applied the NMR relaxometry techniques combined with NMR measurements of molecular diffusion to study the adsorption and vapor-liquid-equilibria of molecular species relevant to FT catalysis. Also, we have systemically developed a kinetic model for the FT reaction both in the conventional gas phase and in the supercritical solvent phase. The former was known to improve the in situ extraction of the hydrocarbons from the catalysts and to better manage the heat and mass transfer limitations in a packed bed reactor. These limitations result because of the liquid-like density and heat capacity and the gas-like diffusivity and transportation property. In order to capture the non-ideal behavior of the supercritical phase FT reaction medium, we have developed a modified equation of state that is capable of simulating the thermodynamic behavior of the reaction mixture in the bulk phase and in the confined catalyst porous structure. This unique model agreed well with our experimental data on the FT products profile that measured from our advanced FT high pressure reactor unit. The complex reactor unit operates at pressures up to 80 bar in presence of the supercritical fluids hexanes under a wide range of reaction conditions. The outcome of this project has been published in seven journal papers, two book chapters and published and presented in numerous national and international conferences. Also, the outcome of this study is to support a design of a novel FT reactor unit with energy integrated system that has been filed a disclosure for new generations of catalytic reactor for this complex heterogeneous reaction system. The main feature of this new reactor is its capabilities in selecting the product distribution of the FT reaction either toward the low hydrocarbon distribution range (gasoline and jet fuels) or toward the medium and light hydrocarbon distortion range (diesel fuel and lubricant).



13C DEPT spectra of the liquid mixtures corresponding to the 9 calibration compositions. The spectra were obtained from the reactor with liquid flowing and contain the signal of both inter- and intra-particle liquid.

Major Project Accomplishments

Peer reviewed Journal Publications, Book chapters

1.  Mogalicherla A., Elmalik E; Elbashir N. O. (2012) “Enhancement in the Intraparticle Diffusion in the Supercritical Phase Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis” Volume 62, December 2012, Pages 59-68  Chemical Engineering and Processing: Process Intensification, (Impact Factor: 2.579)

 2.  Elbashir N. O., Bukur D. B., Durham E., Roberts C. B. (2010) “Advancement in Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis via Utilization of Supercritical Fluids as Reaction Media” Volume 56, Issue 4, Pages 997-1015 AIChE Journal. DOI: 10.1002/aic.12032 (Impact Factor: 2.892)
Interim funding by Texas A&M University to develop a QNRF proposal.

3.  Noureldin M.; Buping Bao, Elbashir N. O.; El-Halwagi M. (2014) “Benchmarking, insights, and potential for improvement of Fischer-Tropsch-based Biomass-to-Liquid technology” Volume 16, Issue 1, Pages 37-44 Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy. (Impact Factor: 3.331)

4.  Hussain R.; Blank J.; Elbashir N. (2015) Modeling the Fixed-Bed Fischer-Tropsch Reactor in Different Reaction Media Computer Aided Chemical Engineering. Volume 37, 2015, Pages 143-148. DOI:,

 5.  Kasht A., Hussain R.; Ghouri M., Blank J., Elbashir N. O. (2015) “Product Analysis of Supercritical Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis: Utilizing a Unique On-Line and Off-Line Gas Chromatographs Setup in a Bench-Scale Reactor Unit”. American Journal of Analytical Chemistry. Volume 6, Issue 8, Pages 659-676, DOI: (Impact Factor: 1.29)

 6.  Hussain R., Blank J. H., Todic B., Elbashir, N.O. and Bukur D. B. “Development of Gas-to-Liquid Technologies from Micro- to Macro-scale” in Weichold M. Hall K. Masad E. “Excellence and Impact of Research at Texas A&M at Qatar” QScience, Doha, Qatar; pp. 58-81 (Chapter 3) (2013). Book ISBN: 978-99921-95-33-8.

7.  Elbashir, N. O., Nassr, L. B., and Ghouri M. “Gas-to-Liquid Technology Research at Texas A&M Qatar and its Potentials” in Mujtaba, I. M.; Srinivasan R.; Elbashir N. O. (2017) “The Water-Food-Energy Nexus: Processes, Technologies and Challenges” CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group. Bota Racon, Florida, USA. September 2017. Book ISBN 9781138746077.

 8.  Afzal S., Blank, J., Hussain, R., Elbashir, N. O. (2015) “Modeling Fischer-Tropsch Product Distribution of a Cobalt-based Catalyst in Different Reaction Media” in Mohammed Jaber  F. Al Marri and Fadwa El Jack (Editors), Proceedings of the 4th International Gas Processing Symposium, October 26–27, 2014 , Doha, Qatar. © 2014 Elsevier B.V. Volume 4;  pp 81-88.

 9.  Ghouri, M. M., Afzal S., Hussain, R., Blank, J., Bukur D. B. , Elbashir, N. O. (2016) “Multi-scale modeling of fixed-bed Fischer Tropsch reactor” Computers and Chemical Engineering, Volume 91, August 2016, Pages 38-48., (Impact Factor: 3.041 )

 10.  Bukur, D. B., Todic, B., Elbashir, N. O., (2016) “Role of water-gas-shift reaction in Fischer–Tropsch synthesis on iron catalysts: A review”, Catalysis Today, Volume 275, October 2016, Pages 66–75, (Impact Factor: 4.233)

Conference Proceedings & Presentations

1.  Elbashir N. O., Bani Nassr L., Elmalik E. , Blank J., Hussain R. (2012) “Multiscale investigations leading to the design of a novel Fischer-Tropsch reactor for gas-to-liquid processes” Qatar Foundation Annual Research Forum Proceedings, Vol. 2012; DOI: 10.5339/qfarf.2012.EEO3.

2.  Bani Nasser L., J. Blank, H. Rehan, N. O. Elbashir (2012) “Modeling Techniques for the In-situ Behavior of Fischer Tropsch’s Fixed Bed Reactor in Gas-Phase and Supercritical Phase Reaction Media” American Chemical Society, Preprint Paper- Division of Energy & Fuels Chemistry; 57(2) 600-601. Book ISBN: 9781622762705. (

3.  Mogalicherla Aswani K., Elfatih E. Elmalik, Nimir O. Elbashir (2012) (L-340) “Simultaneous Assessment of Intrapellet Heat and Mass Transfer Limitations for Supercritical Phase Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis”. The proceedings of the 2012 International Symposium of Supercritical Fluids (ISSF). San Francisco, California.

4.  Buping Bao, Elfatih Elmalik, Nimir Elbashir, Mahmoud El-Halwagi, Fadwa Eljack (2012) P-0605 “Elevated Pressure Supercritical Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis: Product Separation and Energy Integration.” The proceedings of the 2012 International Symposium of Supercritical Fluids (ISSF). San Francisco, California.

5.  Nimir   Elbashir, Layal   Bani Nassr, Elfatih   Elmalik, Jan Blank, and Rehan Hussain. (2012) Multiscale investigations leading to the design of a novel Fischer-Tropsch reactor for gas-to-liquid processes. Qatar Foundation Annual Research Forum Proceedings: Vol. EEO3. DOI: 10.5339/qfarf.2012.EEO3.

6.  Blank, J., Hussian, R, Elbashir, N. O. (2013) “Modeling of Heat and Mass Transfer Limitations in a Fischer-Tropsch Fixed Bed Reactor: Comparisons between Supercritical Phase and Gas Phase” Proceedings of 10th Natural Gas Conversion Symposium “Gas Conversion the Clean Energy of the Future” Doha, Qatar (January 2013); Topic 2 Synfuels 2 pages 1-2.

7.  Noureldin M.;  Bao  B.;  Ghouri  M.M.;  Challiwala  M.  S.;  El-Halwagi  M.;  Elbashir  N.  O. (2015) ”Systematic Multi-scale Modeling for Supercritical Fischer-Tropsch Fixed Bed Reactor” 11th International Symposium on Supercritical Fluids, Seoul, Korea.

 8.  Ghouri M.M.; Challiwala M. S.; Elbashir N. O. (2015) “Systematic Multi-scale Modeling for Supercritical Fischer-Tropsch Fixed Bed Reactor” 11th International Symposium on Supercritical Fluids, Seoul, Korea.

9.  Ghouri M., Elbashir N.O. (2016) “Multi-scale modeling of supercritical Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis Fixed-Bed Reactor” 5th International Gas Processing Symposium. November 2016 (Paper 84). Qatar University, Doha, Qatar

Human Development


  • Jan Blank Feb 2012 – April 2014 (Currently Project Leader Oxidation at Synvina, The Netherlands)
  • Rehan Hussain April 2012 – Sep. 2014 (Currently Lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, Faculty of Engineering)
  • Hanif Choudhury Feb. 2015 – Current
  • Minhaj Ghouri Dec. 2014 – Current

Graduate Students

  • Mohamed Noureldin (Ph.D.): “A Systematic Approach for the Design of Integrated Energy and Chemicals Production”, graduated Fall 2014 (co-chaired with Professor Mahmoud El-Halwagi at Texas A&M University, College Station, USA) (currently with Dow Chemicals).
  • Bao Buping (Ph.D.): “A Shortcut Method for the Synthesis of Technology Pathways for an Integrated Biorefinery”, graduated Spring 2012 (co- chaired with Professor Mahmoud El-Halwagi at Texas A&M University, College Station, USA)
  • Qingyuan Zheng (Ph. D.): “Magnetic resonance studies of intra-particle phenomena in porous catalysts” thesis submitted end March 2016. University of Cambridge, UK. (Co-chaired by Dr. Lynn Gladden)
  • Laial Bani Nassr: “Modeling of the in situ behavior of the fixed bed Fischer Tropsch reactor in gas-phase and supercritical” graduated Fall 2013 from Texas A&M University at Qatar (currently pursuing Ph. D. from Hamad Bin Khalifa University).
  • Samah Warrag (M.S.): “Equation of States for Capillary Catalyst Pores under Supercritical Phase Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis” graduated spring 2014 from Texas A&M University at Qatar. (Co-chaired with Professor Marcelo Castier) (Currently Ph.D. student at Technical University at Eindhoven).
  • Shaik Afzal (M.S.): “Modeling Fischer-Tropsch Product Distribution of a Cobalt- based Catalyst in Different Reaction Media” graduated Fall 2014 from Texas A&M University at Qatar (currently Ph. D. student at Texas A&M University at College Station, USA)
  • Amro Kasht (M.S.): “Experimental Validation of a Novel Fischer-Tropsch Tubular Fixed Bed Reactor under Supercritical Conditions” graduated Spring 2015 from Texas A&M University at Qatar. Currently at Jordan Oil Company.
  • Abdulhaqq Ameen Ibrahim (MSc) “Effect of Pore Size Distribution on Multiphase Equilibrium of Fluids Confined in Porous Media” Fall 2016 (Co-Chair with Dr. Castier chair). (currently Ph. D. student at Memorial University, Canada)
  • Abdullah Abdulmajeed (M.Eng.) “Hazop Study on High Pressure Reactor Unit in Fuel Characterization Lab at TAMUQ” fall 2016, Committee Chair. (currently working in QAPCO in Qatar)

Institutions and PIs

  • Texas A&M University at Qatar: Dr. Marcelo Castier
  • University of Cambridge: Dr. Lynn Gladden

 Industry Collaborators

  • Shell supported the project