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World’s largest CO2-to-methanol plant begins operations

World’s largest CO2-to-methanol plant begins operations
The Carbon Recycling International (CRI) team (photo courtesy CRI).

Iceland-headed emissions-to-liquids (ETL) technology developer Carbon Recycling International hf (CRI) has announced that the world’s first commercial-scale CO2-to-methanol plant has started production in Anyang, Henan Province, China.

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According to CRI, the cutting-edge facility is the first of its type in the world to produce methanol — a valuable fuel and chemical feedstock — at this scale from captured waste carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen gases.

The plant’s production process is based on the Emissions-to-Liquids (ETL) technology developed by CRI and first demonstrated in Iceland.

The new facility can capture 160 000 tonnes of CO2 per annum. The captured CO2 is then reacted with the recovered hydrogen in CRI’s proprietary ETL reactor system with the capacity to produce 110 000 tonnes of methanol per annum.

First CRI project in China

The successful start-up marks the end of a two-year project and a month-long commissioning phase.

Following sign-off by the CRI’s technical service team, the plant operations are now in the hands of Shunli, the project company and majority-owned by the Henan Shuncheng Group.

The distillation column (photo courtesy CRI).

This flagship plant represents the achievement of an important milestone in the ongoing development of carbon capture and utilization (CCU) technology as well as the progression in the industry towards a circular carbon economy.

At the heart of the CO2-to-methanol process is CRI’s bespoke reactor that uses specialized catalysts to convert the carbon and hydrogen feed gases into low carbon-intensity methanol.

The entire unit weighs around 84 tonnes or the weight of a fully-loaded Boeing 737. The reactor is mounted in a dedicated steel frame and connected to a specialized gas compressor and a distillation column that is almost 70-meters tall.

The ETL process uses emissions that would have otherwise been released into the atmosphere, producing liquid methanol — from carbon dioxide that is recovered from existing lime production emissions and hydrogen that is recovered from coke-oven gas.

Expansive methanol market

Methanol production and use have grown rapidly in China in recent years and this new production method offers an alternative to the traditional coal-based methanol currently manufactured in China, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improving air quality.

Björk Kristjánsdóttir, CEO of CRI, emphasizes the importance of the plant’s start-up.

We are proud to have successfully realized this important project and to bring our environmentally friendly, ETL technology into the global market. We take great pleasure in being able to offer our proven technical solution to produce a valuable product directly from waste streams. This can support the large-scale reduction of CO2 emissions and help facilitate the energy transition. With the increased demand for such solutions, we look forward to continuing to make a meaningful impact by deploying the technology with our current and future partners, said Björk Kristjánsdóttir.

CRI’s second CO2-to-methanol project in China was announced last year and is already well on its way. It is expected to come online in the second half of 2023.

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