The Van Trump Report

“Green Methanol” is Starting to Gain More Traction

Fossil fuel is often considered one of the main threats to the environment because of the CO2 released into the atmosphere, pushing greenhouse gas mitigation to the forefront of challenges facing the world. Interestingly, the world’s first commercial-scale CO2-to-methanol plant has started production in Anyang, Henan Province, China, where the cutting-edge facility is the first of its type to produce methanol at this scale from captured waste carbon dioxide and hydrogen gases, meaning it’s use ability to draw-down carbon levels could be a huge tool for the energy sector as they seek to become carbon neutral.

Keep in mind, renewable methanol can be used as a fuel, chemical feedstock, including various types of fuels, or blended with gasoline. Fuels that are produced partially or fully from methanol include biodiesel, dimethyl ether, or oxymethylene ether, as well as synthetic gasoline from the Mobil methanol-to-gasoline process. From what I understand, Carbon Recycling International, who first demonstrated the new technology in Iceland a couple of years ago, has run fleet tests with a range of lower blends and higher blend options in cars from different manufacturers, including 100% methanol in special flexible fuel vehicles. 

I’m told the plant’s production process is based on the Emissions-to-Liquids technology developed by CRI and the new facility will be able to capture 160,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year, which is equivalent to taking more than 60,000 cars off the road. At the heart of the process is CRI’s reactor which uses specialized catalysts to convert the carbon and hydrogen feed gases into low carbon-intensity methanol. The entire unit weighs around 84 tons or the weight of a fully-loaded Boeing 737 and the reactor is mounted in a dedicated steel frame and connected to a specialized gas compressor and a distillation column.

It’s important to note that the ETL process uses emissions that would have otherwise been released into the atmosphere as it produces the liquid methanol from the carbon dioxide that is recovered from existing lime production emissions and hydrogen that is recovered from coke-oven gas. As methanol production and use have grown in China in recent years, this new technology offers a reduction in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and thus will significantly improve air quality.  

Storing the methanol could also be very helpful in cases where energy sources are intermittent. For example, wind and solar power are intermittently available, so by storing energy from these sources in liquid chemical form, the generation of electricity and utilization of electricity does not have to be linked in time and space. Additionally, methanol is also a good energy carrier, meaning as a liquid fuel it is easier and cheaper to store and transport than gaseous fuels such as hydrogen or methane. There’s no doubt that this plant represents the achievement of an important milestone in the ongoing development of carbon capture and utilization technology as the industry moves closer to a circular carbon economy.  

According to Irina Tsukerman, president of the strategic advisory firm Scarab Rising, the total world market for green methanol will grow from $122 million in 2021 to more than $3 billion by 2031. Globally, she says, the big driver of that expansion will be methanol’s use as a fuel for heavy-duty oceangoing vessels as major logistics players including Cosco Shipping Bulk, China Merchants Group, and Maersk are investing heavily in methanol-fueled cargo ships as a way to decarbonize and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. (Source:,,,

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