FT catalysis is a gas-to-liquid (GTL) process whose raw materials are a source of carbon and hydrogen, a catalyst, high temperatures, and high pressure. Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch obtain Synthol, a combination of hydrocarbons and oxygen-containing compounds by reacting hydrogen and carbon monoxide in the presence of alkalized iron (Dlamini 31). They use a pressure of 50 atmospheres and temperatures between 400 and 450 oC. However, the FT plants in South Africa use â€œprecipitated iron catalyst supported on silica and promoted by copper and an alkaliâ€ (Dlamini 32).
The actual process that takes place in FT plants is a polymerization reaction that produces various oligomers. This process can be categorized into three key reactions, which are main reactions, side reactions, and reactions that lead to catalysis alterations. The main reactions cause the formation of paraffin, olefin or can involve a water gas shift reaction. The chemical equations below depict the general equations of the main reactions (Dlamini 35).