Yesterday a groundbreaking project saw its opening ceremony at the Svartsengi geothermal power plant in Reykjanes, Iceland. Carbon Recycling International had a full house of around 200 people attending the opening celebration of its plant.
Carbon Recycling International (CRI) is a developer and operator enabling carbon dioxide capture and conversion. The company uses its patented production process utlizing [sic] hydrogen (H2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) to produce renewable methanol which can be directly blended up to 3% with gasoline according to the EU/ EEA fuel quality directive.
The company has been operating a pilote [sic] scale plant in its laboratory based on its patented process for CO2 to liquid fuels. In late 2011, the company commissioned the world’s first commercial scale plant in the world.
The CO2 feedstock and renewable power for producing hydrogen (H2) are both supplied by the geothermal power plant at Svartsengi.
The “George Olah Plant” was completed in cooperation with Jacobs Engineering, Mannvit, HS Orka and the municipality of Grindavík.
The company will procued [sic] about 5 million liters per year, fueling about 2.5% of the Icelandic gasoline market. It uses about 5 MW in power generation capacity per year (around 40,000 MWh per year) recycling ca. 5,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.
As I was told some time ago by the company’s CEO K-C Tran, the Svartsengi is a very unique location. The quality of the CO2 emitted by the geothermal plant and the power that can be used for the operation make this a very special operation. It helps decrease CO2 emissions of the geothermal plant, utilizing green power to create a green fuel. A win-win for all involved. Congratulations to Carbon Recycling International and the team."___________
CO2toMethanol.com was founded April 18, 2009, a day after the historic "game changer" CO2 to Methanol conversion breakthrough at the Singapore Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN). Since John M. Kocol registered CO2toMethanol.com on the 18th, the article below offers proof of his day after claim.
Carbon Dioxide Transformed Into Methanol
ScienceDaily (Apr. 17, 2009) — Scientists at Singapore's Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) have succeeded in unlocking the potential of carbon dioxide – a common greenhouse gas – by converting it into a more useful product.
In the international chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie, the IBN researchers report that by using organocatalysts, they activated carbon dioxide in a mild and non-toxic process to produce methanol, a widely used industrial feedstock and clean-burning biofuel.
Organocatalysts are catalysts that are comprised of non-metallic elements found in organic compounds. NHCs such as IMes (1,3-bis-(2,4,6 trimethylphenyl)imidazolylidene) are a form of organocatalysts that are stable and easily stored. They do not contain toxic heavy metals and can be produced easily without high costs.
The scientists made carbon dioxide react by using N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs), a novel organocatalyst. In contrast to heavy metal catalysts that contain toxic and unstable components, NHCs are stable, even in the presence of oxygen. Hence, the reaction with NHCs and carbon dioxide can take place under mild conditions in dry air.
The IBN scientists showed that only a small amount of NHC is required to induce carbon dioxide activity in a reaction. "NHCs have shown tremendous potential for activating and fixing carbon dioxide. Our work can contribute towards transforming excess carbon dioxide in the environment into useful products such as methanol," said Siti Nurhanna Riduan, IBN Senior Lab Officer, who is also pursuing her Ph.D. under the Scientific Staff Development Award at IBN, one of the research institutes of Singapore's A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research).
Hydrosilane, a combination of silica and hydrogen, is added to the NHC-activated carbon dioxide, and the product of this reaction is transformed into methanol by adding water through hydrolysis.
Yugen Zhang, Ph.D., IBN Team Leader and Principal Research Scientist, explained, "Hydrosilane provides hydrogen, which bonds with carbon dioxide in a reduction reaction. This carbon dioxide reduction is efficiently catalyzed by NHCs even at room temperature. Methanol can be easily obtained from the product of the carbon dioxide reaction. Our previous research on NHCs has demonstrated their multiple applications as powerful antioxidants to fight degenerative diseases, and as effective catalysts to transform sugars into an alternative energy source. We have now shown that NHCs can also be applied successfully to the conversion of carbon dioxide into methanol, helping to unleash the potential of this highly abundant gas."
Previous attempts to reduce carbon dioxide to more useful products have required more energy input and a much longer reaction time. They also require transition metal catalysts, which are both unstable in oxygen and expensive. Ongoing research at IBN aims to find cheap alternatives for the hydrosilane reagent so that the production of methanol can be even more cost-effective for mass industrial production.
"At IBN, we are innovating effective methods of generating clean energy using green chemistry and nanotechnology. In the face of environmental pollution, global warming and increasing demands on diminishing fossil fuel resources, we hope to provide a viable alternative energy option for industry, and effective sequestration and conversion of carbon dioxide," said IBN Executive Director. Jackie Y. Ying, Ph.D.
1. Siti Nurhanna Riduan, Yugen Zhang, Jackie Y. Ying. Conversion of Carbon Dioxide into Methanol with Silanes over N-Heterocyclic Carbene Catalysts. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Volume 48 Issue 18, Pages 3322 - 3325; Published Online: 31 Mar 2009 DOI: 10.1002/anie.20080658
Adapted from materials provided by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.
|The ExxonMobil MTG process flow diagram. Source: EMRE. Click to enlarge.|
Sundrop Fuels, Inc., a gasification-based drop-in advanced biofuels company, finalized a licensing agreement to use ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company’s methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) technology to be incorporated into a “green gasoline” production facility. Located near Alexandria, Louisiana, Sundrop Fuels plans to break ground late this year on its inaugural commercial plant, which will produce up to 50 million gallons of renewable gasoline annually. (Earlier post.)
The Sundrop Fuels installation represents the first commercial production of biofuels using the MTG process. The MTG technology was originally developed in the 1970s and was successfully commercialized for a large-scale natural gas to gasoline plant during the 1980s in New Zealand.
Sundrop Fuels will use a multi-phase process to convert sustainable forest waste into a bio-based drop-in gasoline for use in today’s combustion engines. A gasification process converts the forest waste combined with hydrogen from natural gas into a synthesis gas, which will then be converted into methanol and then into gasoline in a fixed bed reactor system via the MTG process.
|The MTG reaction path. Source: EMRE. Click to enlarge.|
The MTG process first dehydrates methanol to dimethylether (DME); an equilibrium mixture of methanol, DME and water is then converted to light olefins (C2-C4). A final step synthesizes higher olefins, n/iso-paraffins, aromatics and naphthenes. The shape-selective catalyst limits the synthesis reactions to 10 carbons.
MTG reactor product is separated into gas, raw gasoline and water. Raw gasoline is separated into LPG, light gasoline and heavy gasoline; heavy gasoline is hydro-treated to reduce durene content, then heavy and light gasoline are re-combined into finished MTG gasoline. The result is sulfur-free gasoline with a typical 92 Research Octane.
|MTG gasoline properties|
|Octane Number, RON||92.2||92.0-92.5|
|Octane Number, MON||82.6||82.2-83.0|
|Reid Vapor Pressure, kPa||85||82-90|
|Induction Period, min.||325||260-370|
|Durene Content, wt%||2||1.74-2.29|
|% Evaporation at 70° C||31.5||29.5-34.5|
|% Evaporation at 100° C||53.2||51.5-55.5|
|% Evaporation at 180° C||94.9||94-96.5|
|End Point, °C||204.5||196-209|
The gasoline yield represents 38% of the feed, and 87% of the hydrocarbon product. Water (H2O) represents 56% of the feed.
The company’s first facility will also provide an operational platform for Sundrop Fuels to begin field integration of its proprietary RP Reactor radiant particle heat transfer gasification technology. The super-efficient, ultra high-temperature process will drive Sundrop Fuels’ future massive-scale biofuels plants, planned to produce more than 300 million gallons of renewable, drop-in biofuels annually.
Plans are for Sundrop Fuels to achieve a combined production capacity of more than one billion gallons by 2020—a significant percentage of the cellulosic advanced biofuels goal set by the nation’s Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).
Significant backing for Sundrop Fuels comes from Chesapeake Energy Corporation, the largest producer of natural gas in northern Louisiana’s Haynesville Shale Field and second-largest producer in the nation. Chesapeake invested $155 million in Sundrop Fuels in mid-2011. The company’s investors also include two of the world’s premier venture capital firms, Oak Investment Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers.
Yossie Hollander has a concise way of summarizing our dependence on foreign oil. “We get 36 percent of our energy from petroleum in this country and 20 percent from coal,” says the California entrepreneur turned philanthropist. “Yet we spend only $35 billion a year on the coal and $780 billion on oil products – most of it going into foreign pockets.”
The successful founder of a software enterprise, the 54-year-old Hollander is co-founder of the Fuel Freedom Foundation, which is trying to open up the transportation sector to more competition and replace imported oil with cheaper, American-made fuels. One candidate that Fuel Freedom believes could be a game-changer – methanol.
“Methanol gets only two-thirds the mileage of gasoline but it’s a liquid and goes easily into your car engine,” says Hollander. “It would require the auto companies to make a factory adjustment that would cost only $100. It’s very similar to burning ethanol. But methanol has a much more abundant feedstock - natural gas.”
Running cars on methanol would be the logical conclusion to a chain of events that began in the 1970s when the Carter Administration decided that converting crops to ethanol was the road to energy independence. The federal tax deduction plus a variety of other incentives have produced 13.8 billion gallons of ethanol a year – and an environmental disaster. More than 40 percent of the American corn crop now goes into our gas tanks (it recently surpassed cattle feed as the principle use). This has pushed up corn prices around the world while producing only negligible energy savings. Even environmental groups now oppose ethanol and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization regularly calls such biofuels a “crime against humanity.” Yet with much of the Midwest now geared to ethanol production, change is not likely to come soon.
When the corn ethanol push began, natural gas was scarce and considered best suited for heating homes and a providing feedstock for the plastics and fertilizer industries. Supplies ran even lower after 2000 and a good portion of those gas-dependent industries left for Mexico and the Middle East. But all that has now changed. The hydraulic fracking of shale deposits has opened up previously inaccessible resources and the nation is suddenly awash in natural gas.
The glut has prompted several efforts to move methane into the transportation sector. A few companies are trying compressed natural gas (CNG) but the process is complicated since the fuel must be stored under very high pressure. 3M has developed a sturdy gas tank and the trucking industry is showing interest, but only a few models are available and conversion of older vehicles would cost $10,000 apiece.
To this, Hollander poses a simple question: “Why not add methanol to the mix?”
Methanol is the simplest alcohol molecule with one hydroxyl ion (OH) attached to methane’s one carbon atom. It does not require the expensive distillation if corn ethanol or high-energy catalytic cracking of oil refining. Methane can be “reformed” into methanol by bathing it in steam. “It’s early 20th century chemistry,” says Hollander.
We already have a thriving methanol industry. There are 18 production plants in the U.S. putting out 2.6 billion gallons a year. It is used widely as a manufacturing feedstock and makes up 30 percent of the windshield fluid in your car. Methanol is also the principle racing car fuel on the NASCAR circuit. The conversion began in the 1990s in order to avoid deadly gasoline explosions. But drivers have grown very fond of methanol because it burns cleaner and gives almost the same octane rating as gasoline.
Of course ramping up the industry to replace a significant portion of the 136 billion gallons of gasoline we consume every year would be a monumental undertaking. But it would not involve any technological breakthroughs. “You could build a conversion facility at the end of each gas pipeline and have tanker trucks transport it to every gas station in the country,” he says. “The infrastructure wouldn’t have to change much.”
So what’s the problem? Well, unfortunately putting methanol into car engines is illegal.
“When the EPA wrote its regulations for auto emissions it approved only one fuel – gasoline,” says Hollander. “Ethanol only makes it because it’s classified as an `additive.’ The EPA could easily add methanol to the list. It’s just a question of getting them to do it.”
Fuel Freedom is running a smart national campaign, enlisting both free market advocates and environmental organizations to the cause. “Methanol burns cleaner than gasoline,” says Hollander. “It would make a big improvement in air pollution.” With bi-partisan backing, the Open Fuel Standard Act is also making its way through Congress. The law would require automakers to produce cars that can run on multiple fuels, including methanol. “Right now the auto companies could produce flex-fuel vehicles any time they want,” says Hollander. “Their answer is always that they’ve tried before and nobody wanted to buy them.”
California actually put tens of thousands of methanol cars on the road in the 1990s through a state-sponsored program but the effort eventually fizzled because gasoline only cost $2 a gallon and natural gas was $6 per mcf. Now the price differential has reversed. “You could sell methanol today at the octane equivalent of $2 per gallon,” says Hollander. “You wouldn’t need any subsidies. The market would handle everything.”
The elements for this historic transformation are all in place. With a strategic push, the auto industry could soon be launching another methanol experiment, this time under much more favorable circumstances. If so, Yossie Hollander and the Fuel Freedom Foundation can claim at least part of the credit.
William Tucker is news editor of RealClearEnergy.org and author of Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Power Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America's Energy Odyssey.