With his innovative reactor design to remove hydrogen sulfide from natural gas, ETE researcher Jan Klok won the public vote of the Prins Friso engineering prize last March. The Prins Friso prize is yearly awarded by the Royal Institute of engineers (KIVI) to the ‘engineer of the year’ who’s research has demonstrated expertise, innovation, impact on society and entrepreneurship. Besides this jury award, the public’s favorite engineer is awarded by votes from the general public.
Cost reductionNatural gas contains the highly toxic hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and this has to be removed. ‘The removal of this huge waste stream of H2S accounts for about half of the total costs of the oil and gas industry’, Klok states. Already in the early 1990’s, ETE professor Cees Buisman developed the ‘Thiopaq’, a reactor where bacteria convert H2S present in gas into pure sulfur. The efficiency is high: about 90 percent. The Thiopaq resulted in a substantial cost reduction, mainly due to a reduced need for chemicals. Based on a theoretical approach and experimental data obtained by himself and his predecessors of ETE, Klok predicted that by enhancing conditions for the sulfur-producing bacteria, the conversion efficiency of H2S could be increased to over 98 percent! His idea is now being tested and optimized in a new pilot reactor by the company Paqell and ETE.