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MHPS Europe and RWE Power commission CO2 to methanol pilot plant

In Germany, a new pilot plant to capture and utilise carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to produce methanol is being commissioned at RWE Power's facility in Niederaußem. Built by Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Europe GmbH (MHPS Europe) jointly with RWE Power and other partners, the "MefCO2" Project takes CO2 generated and separated at the plant and uses hydrogen to convert it into methanol.

The MefCO2 pilot plant for methanol synthesis in Niederaußem, Germany (photo courtesy MHPS Europe).

Reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, making expedient use of excess electricity from renewable energy and thereby contributing to climate protection: these are the goals being accomplished by a new pilot plant built by Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Europe (MHPS Europe) now being commissioned jointly with the client RWE Power and other partners at the power plant site in Niederaußem, Germany.

Being funded by the EU under its Horizon 2020 (H2020) research and innovation programme, the EUR 11 million “MefCO2” project takes CO2 generated and separated at the plant and uses hydrogen to convert it into methanol.

The hydrogen used in the process is captured by means of electrolysis using excess electricity from renewable energy.

Versatile platform chemical

The new facility can produce up to a tonne of methanol daily from 1.5 tonnes of CO2, which can then be put to a variety of uses. Methanol can be used, for example, directly as fuel or further refined into synthetic gasoline or dimethyl ether (DME) and then employed as a diesel substitute in heavy cargo or shipping transport.

This results in drastic reductions in emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and soot particles.

It can also be used to operate diesel generators, which are employed in supplying peak load and emergency power, for example. Methanol is also in great demand worldwide as a raw material used in the chemical industry.

These types of synthetic fuels can take the place of fossil resources and significantly reduce CO2 emissions, said Thomas Bohner, CEO at MHPS Europe.

As part of the MefCO2 Project, the company was responsible for engineering, procurement and commissioning, and, working in a consortium with eight other partners (manufacturers, universities and research institutes from several European countries), oversaw the integration of various components and systems.

The process of synthesizing methanol from carbon dioxide and hydrogen could be useful not only in power plants. Waste incineration and industrial facilities also produce CO2, which can be converted into a valuable commodity through projects like the one in Niederaußem.

For MHPS Europe the MefCO2 pilot plant is just one of several elements on the road toward building a low CO2 energy landscape.

Our company is able to draw on a broad range of relevant technologies that are either already in use or soon will be. These range from fuel cells to geothermal systems as well as hydrogen-powered gas turbines, ended Thomas Bohner.

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