545691 Air Liquide Rethinks the Process for Transforming  CO2 to Methanol

Wednesday, June 5, 2019: 2:51 PM
Texas Ballroom D (Grand Hyatt San Antonio)
Timm Schuhmann1, Stéphane Haag2, Holger Schlichting1, Nga Thi Quynh Do1, Martin Gorny3, Veronika Gronemann3, Tobias Oelmann3 and Bryce A. Williams3, (1)Air Liquide Forschung & Entwicklung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, (2)1AIR LIQUIDE Forschung und Entwicklung GmbH, Frankfurt R&D Center, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, (3)Air Liquide Engineering & Construction, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Air Liquide draws on a long history of expertise in methanol production including dedicated pilot plants at the Frankfurt Research and Technology Center (FRTC) in Germany, 18 commercial plants licensed with the Lurgi MegaMethanolTM technology and more than 60 methanol licenses for a total capacity of more than 47 million tonnes per year of methanol production. Air Liquide’s methanol technology is well-known for its reliable performance and efficiency in the market for world scale capacities beginning at 5000 metric tons per day. One of the latest examples is the successful start-up of the NatGasoline plant in the US based on natural gas using a combined reforming front end to produce the syngas.

Air Liquide applies its experience to further improve the methanol synthesis technology and economics for unconventional feed sources such as stranded gas, unused syngas capacities and CO2 rich gases. In the development, the syngas generation is based upon different options from Air Liquide’s proprietary technology portfolio including SMR, ATR, POX and off-gas pretreatment.
Resulting from this strong technology background are developments such as two-stage synthesis and minimized recycle ratios, being implemented from the lab directly into commercial plants.

One of the major trends in recent years is CO2 utilization by producing methanol with the addition of hydrogen from regenerative sources. The reduction of CO2 footprint as well as the valorization of CO2 rich gases are of increasing interest for many industries and methanol is a perfect fit for energy storage, for clean fuels and as a building block for producing high value chemicals. The production of methanol as an intermediate is an effective way to meet both environmental requirements and economic constraints.

Concepts for methanol synthesis based on CO2 and hydrogen exist but are not optimized for today’s challenges such as smaller capacities, integration into other processes and fluctuating operation. This is why Air Liquide is developing a new solution for methanol synthesis from low-carbon hydrogen and CO2.

Air Liquide has embarked on a dedicated experimental program in 2017 to improve the know how on the production of methanol from CO2 rich gases and to tackle the technological details related to these.

In addition, as a founding member of the Hydrogen Council, Air Liquide brings a wide range of enabling technologies from the field of industrial gases including CO2 capture & purification, syngas & hydrogen production, hydrogen transport & storage. One option in the portfolio of Air Liquide Engineering & Construction that emphasizes carbon capture and utilization (CCU) is the production of methanol from CO2. Air Liquide is in the position to propose tailor made solutions for conversion of CO2 rich feedstocks to methanol for a wide range of capacities in an efficient way, combining lower investment costs with high productivity through process intensification to align with customers requirements.

The key points of these recent developments will be presented in this paper as listed here:

  • Improved models for methanol synthesis based on CO2 rich feed gas to be able to offer better economics combined with robust and guaranteed performance.
  • New philosophy for process design focussed on hydrogen efficiency at the expense of carbon efficiency.
  • Extensive test campaigns in pilot plants to verify assumptions regarding hydrogen efficiency as a key parameter.
  • Dedicated process design (methanol synthesis reactors) for small scale units

The application of CO2 to methanol technology must be seen in the context of current and future environmental regulations. Besides the regulatory framework, validation of dedicated business models for specific cases are mandatory to realize viable commercial applications. Often, the balance between fuel value, production of chemicals and the CO2 footprint have to be taken into consideration. The CO2 to methanol process can be implemented now with established technology offered by Air Liquide Engineering & Construction, complete with full commercial performance guarantees. Leveraging the recent developments a second generation CO2 to methanol process is expected to show better efficiency and substantially improved economics.

Air Liquide will provide information on how to integrate this process with the upstream hydrogen supply and the effect this has on the economics of methanol production.

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