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Arnhem to host first e-methanol system in Benelux

Arnhem to host first e-methanol system in Benelux
The system with a capacity of 500 tonnes per year of grade AA e-methanol will be constructed at the site of HyGear in Arnhem, the Netherlands (photo courtesy Bright Renewables).

In the Netherlands, a consortium with Bright Renewables and HyGear, both part of the HoSt Group, and the University of Twente are set to construct Benelux's first electro-methanol (e-methanol) system. The joint project, "Towards Acceleration and Demonstration of E-Methanol" (TANDEM), targets the development of technology for producing e-methanol for heavy-duty transport, including shipping and aviation.

The four-year TANDEM project is set to produce its initial batch of e-methanol by the third quarter of 2025.

In this consortium, Bright Renewables is developing the methanol reactor technology at its facilities in Enschede while HyGear in Arnhem is providing a 1 MW electrolyzer with Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) technology.

The University of Twente also located in Enschede is researching heat exchange, which is vital for the process, and the most optimal way for scaling up the project using a twin-test reactor.

Regional co-funding

TANDEM has been granted almost EUR 4 million in subsidies, covering half the total EUR 8 million investment.

Some EUR 600,000 of the EUR 4 million in subsidies is allocated specifically for the university’s research.

The project’s total funding comes from a ‘GroenVermogenNL’ subsidy, underpinned by the ‘Nationaal Groeifonds’.

All intermediate steps and required technologies are engineered and developed in-house and in close local collaboration with the university around the corner.

The subsidy was granted due to our innovative design which focuses on process intensification. We’ve designed a technology that uses fewer materials and operates at lower temperatures and pressures than existing technologies, resulting in lower energy consumption and a reduced total cost of ownership, commented Martin Bos, R&D Manager at HoSt Group.

Effective grid congestion prevention

Methanol, the simplest form of alcohol, is produced by combining hydrogen with carbon dioxide (CO2) or carbon monoxide (CO) in a reactor, also known as methanol synthesis.

As a liquid at room temperature and pressure, methanol serves as an efficient energy carrier or storage medium.

For the TANDEM project, the CO2 will be sourced from biogenic CO2, captured from biogas plants or biomass- or waste-fired boiler plants.

The green hydrogen will be supplied through electrolysis, with electricity sourced from unsubsidized solar and wind power produced within the Netherlands.

The system with an annual capacity of 500 tonnes of grade AA e-methanol will be constructed at the site of HyGear in Arnhem.

Designed for decentralized operation this e-methanol system is intended for smaller-scale use, set up near local solar or wind farms to utilize sustainable electricity directly, helping to reduce grid congestion issues.

We want to investigate how predictable the reactor performs under the varying availability of sustainable energy. Being able to store excess renewable electricity in the form of methanol, helps to minimize grid congestion, maximizes the potential of solar and wind farms, and provides a CO2-neutral fuel, said University of Twente Professor Wim Brilman on the importance of dynamic operation.

With legislative and regulatory momentum increasingly supporting CO2 capture to achieve national goals, there is a push towards these sustainable practices. By 2030, it is projected that 2.1 megatonnes of biogenic CO2 will be available for use in the Netherlands alone.

Additionally, decentralizing production directly at end-user sites cuts down on transportation, further enhancing the system’s efficiency and sustainability.

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