Mobil Research Team Inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame

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