Mobil research team, Clarence Chang, Dr. Anthony Silvestri and William Lang, were charged with doing exploratory research to open new frontiers in fuel and petrochemical technology. In 1972, while conducting an investigation of the reaction pathways of polar organic compounds on acidic zeolites, the key experiment was conceived that led to the discovery of the conversion of methanol to hydrocarbons, including gasoline-range, high-octane aromatics, over the synthetic zeolite ZSM‑5.
This discovery became the basis of the Mobil Methanol-to-Gasoline (MTG) Process, the first synfuel process to be commercialized in 50 years, and sparked worldwide interest and research that continues to this day. In 1985, it was commercialized in New Zealand as the Gas-to-Gasoline Process, in response to the Arab Oil Embargo and the ensuing energy crisis. The process operated successfully for a decade before being suspended due to the end of the energy crisis and declining crude oil prices. However, because methanol can be made from any gasifiable carbonaceous material, such as coal and biomass, the MTG process may again play a vital role in a future of dwindling oil and gas resources.
This patent and associated patents revealed a new way to manufacture gasoline, bringing greater security and self-sufficiency to gasoline-reliant consumers, nations and the world at large. A graduate of Harvard, Clarence D. Chang is the author of over 60 papers and encyclopedia chapters, as well as a book, Hydrocarbons from Methanol. For his discovery, he was awarded the American Chemical Society 1992 E.V. Murphree Award and the North American Catalysis Society 1999 Eugene J. Houdry Award among other honors. He holds over 220 U.S. patents.
Dr. Silvestri authored or co-authored about 60 papers. In recognition of his professional accomplishments, Dr. Silvestri received the New York Catalysis Society Award for Excellence in Catalysis in 1984 and was named a Penn State Alumni Fellow in 1995. He holds 28 U.S. patents.
Contributed by Clarence D. Chang, Anthony J. Silvestri and William H. Lang
Mobil Central Research