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SYNTHETIC FUELS 2019/ key indicators

Recent Inventions / Brief Overview

This review represents statistical indicators that characterize major priorities of inventors based on the patent applications registered during 2019 in patent offices around the world in the field related to the production of synthetic fuels (synthesis gas and its derivatives, liquid hydrocarbons via Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, direct coal liquefaction, etc.). In total, 941 patent applications were collected for the present review as of the date of this publication, which are represented by 388 applicants from 29 countries in 29 patent offices of the world. The methodology of searching and processing patent documents is provided on the Advanced Energy Technologies website.
In 2019 five patent offices were particularly popular – USPTO (US), EPO (EPC states), CNIPA (China), JPO (JP) and WIPO. It is obvious that, to a great extent, the territorial connection of patenting corresponds to local development level for this technological sector. About 94% of patent applications were concentrated in the top 10 patent offices listed below.

Distribution of patent applications, published by the top 10 patent offices

Patent officeNumber of documents, 2019Share of total, %
State Intellectual Property Office, China37439.7
United States Patent and Trademark Office13914.8
World Intellectual Property879.2
European Patent Office848.9
Industrial Property Office, Japan525.5
IP Australia414.4
Korean Intellectual Property Office384.0
National Institute of Industrial Property, Brazil343.6
Eurasian Patent Organization181.9
Canadian Intellectual Property Office131.4
Rest of World616.5

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

The most popular with applicants were the Chinese Patent Offices (CNIPA) and the United States (USPTO), where 39.7% and 14.8% of patent applications were registered, respectively. More than 5% of applications on the subject under consideration were also found in EPO (EPC states), WIPO and JPO (JP). 6.5% of patent applications were filed with patent offices not included in the top 10. In general, during the present year the trend depicting the number of documents related to the subject of interest has demonstrated a major slump compared to the previous year.

Residents of China and the USA remained the most active applicants in 2018 and their cumulative share exceeded 51%. They are followed by the representatives of France, Japan and Germany.

Distribution of countries of the world by the number of resident applicants in patent applications

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

In the year the priority areas for inventive activity represented in the form of technology categories were Coal to Liquid, Gas to Liquid, Fischer-Tropsch processes and Biomass to Liquid technologies, as well as the production technologies for Methanol and its derivatives.

Low efficiency of main processes prevailed in the list of basic technological operations for synthetic fuels processing (about 30% of patent applications). In addition to them, technical solutions often related to High OPEX / Repair and replacement, Low efficiency due to energy losses and High OPEX / Maintenance.

A list of the main problems addressed by the applicants is presented in the table below.

Distribution of technical problems in the patent applications found

ProblemsAverage RatingShare, %Total 2019
Administrative and organisational problems90.47
High CAPEX / Development106.3119
High CAPEX / Equipment107.6143
High costs in general80.611
High OPEX / Maintenance1010.9204
High OPEX / Repair and replacement1018.3343
Low efficiency due to catalyst replacement100.59
Low efficiency due to energy losses1011207
Low efficiency due to feed quality82.344
Low efficiency in general70.713
Low efficiency of main processes1029.7557
Low efficiency of secondary processes90.917
Saving ecosystems98.1151
Unclear problem91.426
Water, energy or gas consumption71.324

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

A little more than 800 of individual IPC subgroups were mentioned in the patent applications collected, while in total they were assigned 3798 times. The most popular among them were: C10G 2/00 (Production of liquid hydrocarbon mixtures of undefined composition from oxides of carbon) – found in 4.6% of applications; C10J 3/72 (Production of gases containing carbon monoxide and hydrogen/ Other features) – 2.7% and C01B 3/38 (Hydrogen... using catalysts) – 2.3%.

Among the technological processes the inventors demonstrated the strongest interest in relation to the technologies of Syngas production (Syngas production in general, Primary technologies of syngas production) – 39.2% of applications, as well as in Fischer-Tropsch catalysts (9.9%), Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (8.2%) and Methanol synthesis (8.6%). 

More detailed information on the methodology as well as on the results of patent researches in the most important fields of contemporary energy industry can be found at Advanced Energy Technologies.