Renewable methanol is produced from sustainable raw materials such as industrial and municipal waste, biomass and carbon dioxide. Same as conventional methanol, it can be used as a feedstock in chemicals or as a fuel in transportation. Renewable methanol combines rising environmental concerns, better use of waste materials and, last but not least, ambitions for a circular economy. Companies around the world use different sustainable sources to produce renewable methanol.
Carbon Recycling International, Iceland, produces renewable methanol, named VulcanolTM, by catalytically reacting CO2 directly with hydrogen obtained from the electrolysis of water using renewable electricity (from hydro, geothermal and wind sources). CRI’s George Olah Renewable Methanol Plant was completed in 2012 and currently they have 4000 tons a year production capacity. VulcanolTM is sold to companies in Iceland, Sweden, the Netherlands and China.
BioMCN, Netherlands, converts biogas into advanced second generation bio-methanol.
Enerkem, Canada, produces bio-methanol from municipal solid waste feedstock. At the beginning of 2018 Enerkem and other partners in consortium (Air Liquide, AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals and the Port of Rotterdam) signed a project development agreement covering initial investment in an advanced waste-to-chemistry facility in Rotterdam. The facility will convert up to 360 000 tons of non-recyclable waste into 220 000 tons of green methanol. Enerkem and Sinobioway Group, China, signed an agreement to create a joint venture to build over 100 biofuel Enerkem facilities in China by 2035.
Chemrec, Sweden, is using waste from paper production called black liquor to produce bio-methanol and bio-DME.
VärmlandsMetanol, Sweden, will build and operate the world´s first commercial biomass-to-methanol plant in Hagfors. VärmlandsMetanol will gasify forest biomass residues and produce syngas into fuel grade bio-methanol.
Rising demand for alternative and sustainable sources of energy is a major factor driving growth of the global renewable methanol market. Renewable methanol from CO2 and other sustainable resources is a promising way to decrease dependence on fossil fuel and also reduce emissions to meet the Kyoto objectives.
Neja Strah Štefančič
National Institute of Chemistry (Slovenia)