Mostly off-topic (but energy-related), I just got a notice that one of my patents that has been working it’s way through the system was finally granted:
United States Patent 7,381,230
Rapier, et al. June 3, 2008
The invention relates to reactor systems and processes for producing synthesis gas. In one embodiment, a reactor comprises a first reaction zone comprising a combustion catalyst, wherein the first reaction zone is operated at conditions sufficient to produce a combustion zone product comprising heat generated by the combustion of a fuel. The reactor further comprises a second reaction zone comprising a partial oxidation catalyst, wherein the second reaction zone is adapted to receive the combustion zone product and a reaction feed comprising a hydrocarbon gas. The second reaction zone is operated at conditions sufficient for partially oxidizing the hydrocarbon gas to a product stream comprising synthesis gas. The heat of combustion is transferred directly to the reaction feed by mixing it in a feed mix region located in the reactor between the first and second reaction zones, in such a manner that the reaction feed does not need preheating prior to entering the partial oxidation zone.
This patent is a gas to liquids (GTL) application, but has implications for CTL and BTL as well. From the time of application, it took 3.5 years for this one to be granted.