As synthesis gas (syngas) can be used for a broad range of end products, utilizing green and sustainable feedstock gives the opportunity to produce biobased fuels and chemicals.
Methanol is a highly versatile chemical that is widely used for industrial purposes and prevalent in the everyday life. The efficiency of methanol as an energy carrier has made it increasingly common as a fuel for factories and electricity generation. There is a huge potential methanol offers as an environmentally sound fuel source, and the worldwide demand is growing as a promising resource for a new era of clean energy.
Mixing methanol with various chemical substances enables it to be used as an intermediate material. This creates opportunities for thousands of methanol and methanol derivative products used in practically every aspect of our lives. The methanol obtained from feedstocks such as: MSW, RDF and wood pellets, takes part from the group of advanced biofuels.
The use of methanol in various application is on the raise globally and there are various examples on how methanol is used in the transport and chemical sector today:
In order to decrease environmental impacts, most of the scientists and many governments turned their attention to use of renewable fuels as alternatives to conventional fossil fuels and as oxygenates. When fossil fuels are being used in automobiles, they produce exhaust emissions of hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect.
The combustion of methanol can give lower HC and CO emissions and besides that the vehicles that use methanol emit minimum particulate matter compared to gasoline, which usually has damaging effect to humans. In addition, methanol has high-octane content that promotes better the process of combustion. Due to this reasons the blending of Advanced Methanol™ with other types of fuels is considered. Advanced Methanol™ is eligible for double counting under the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II).
DME (dimethyl ether) is a clean-burning, non-toxic, renewable fuel. Because of its high cetane value (55-60) and quiet combustion, as well as its inexpensive fueling system, DME becomes an excellent diesel alternative that will meet strict emissions standards. Most of the current DME is obtained from methanol, through a dehydration reaction. To be able to use it as automotive fuel, in large volumes, DME would have to be produced directly from synthesis gas, with the elimination of the methanol step.
MTBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether) is a chemical compound that can be obtained by the chemical reaction between methanol and isobutylene. It is a colorless flammable liquid with a characteristic odor and the average octane number of 108. MTBE is produced in large quantities as an oxygenate for fuel blending. It is almost exclusively used as a gasoline additive that provides clean burning fuel in order to reduce the tail gas pollution that is generated by the motor vehicles.
In the production of biodiesel methanol can be used as a short-chain alcohol to react with the vegetable or animal fats and oils. In most of the cases, methanol is preferred over other types of alcohols, such as ethanol, due to the fact that it is less sensitive to water in the alkali procedure.
The methanol-to-olefins (MTO) reaction is one of the most important reactions in chemistry, which provides the opportunity to obtain basic petrochemicals from non-oil resources such as coal. Nowadays, the main source of ethylene and propylene is steam cracking of naphtha or other hydrocarbons. However, methanol is an alternate source of light olefins. Due to the methanol sensitivity to a catalyst, it could be catalyzed by acidic zeolites to form hydrocarbons.
Methanol is an important feedstock for the production of so-called methanol to gasoline (MTG) process. This process selectively converts methanol to a single fungible liquid fuel and a small liquified petroleum gas (LPG) stream. The obtained liquid product is a conventional gasoline with almost no sulfur and low benzene, which can also be further blended with ethanol, methanol or with petroleum refinery stocks. The MTG gasoline meets the requirements for conventional gasoline, and is fully compatible with refinery gasoline.
Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring organic compound, however it can also be commercially produced from methanol. Today there are two main routes: oxidation-dehydrogenation using a silver catalyst involving either the complete or incomplete conversion of methanol; and the direct oxidation of methanol to formaldehyde using metal oxide catalysts. It can be further used in making building materials and many household products.
Acetic acid is an important bulk chemical that is currently produced by the synthesis of methanol and carbon monoxide, CO. Further, the acetic acid can be used in many industrial processes for the production of substrates, as well as in manufacture of synthetic fibers and resins and as a solvent in polyester fiber production.
Fischer-Tropsch process is a collection of chemical reactions that is used to produce synfuels from gasified biomass. This process converts a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen into liquid hydrocarbons in the presence of a metal catalyst. The production of liquid hydrocarbons fuel from biomass by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, has become an attractive opportunity due to its advantages compared to fossil diesel: reduction of greenhouse gases emissions, absence of sulphur and nitrogen, environmental friendliness by recycling various agricultural wastes as well as wood, also the higher combustion efficiency:
Aviation fuels are large contributors to greenhouse gas emissions globally. With more demand for green solutions, green aviation fuels are an important development. The high quality of syngas produced with HTW 2.0 technology is sufficient for downstream production of aviation fuels, suitable for blending or direct application as aviation fuel.
As important feedstock in the fuel and chemical industry, demand for green solutions for diesel en naphtha is growing. By utilizing Fischer Tropsch, the high quality bio-syngas can be converted into bio-diesel and bio-naphtha. Both production paths lead to a significant avoidance of carbon emissions opposed to the petroleum routes without being different in the required quality.
As waxes and lubes can be produced via petroleum based Fischer Tropsch, utilizing bio-syngas gives excellent opportunities for these specific industries. The product can range from personal care, to industrial waxes/lubes and surgical lubricants; in all cases the user will contribute to carbon emission avoidance, while utilizing the same level quality product.
Synthetic Natural Gas (SNG)
SNG is a fuel gas that can be produced from fossil fuels as well as from biofuels, thus named bio-SNG. It is produced by converting biomass via gasification into a methane-rich product gas and, after cleaning, converting the H2 and CO in the gas to methane by catalytic methanation. The conventional production of fossil-based natural gas produces climate-damaging carbon dioxide, compared to the use of biomass. Today, SNG can be used as a substitute to the already in-use natural gas, in existing heating systems or in industry.
IGCC - integrated gasification combined cycle, is a technology that uses a high pressure gasifier to turn carbon based fuels into pressurized gas, called synthesis gas or syngas. This process, similar to natural gas combined cycle (NGCC), uses gas and steam turbines to generate electricity, but in this case syngas is used. Biomass based IGCC is considered to be the most efficient biomass energy conversion technology and it can be applied to organic residues from any sources. The IGCC plants benefit from the advantages of gasification technology, in particular environmental benefits. The ease of carbon dioxide capture, the availability to use a variety of feedstocks and a high efficiency relative to other power generation technologies, are only a number of benefits this process can offer.
Hydrogen is considered to be an important intermediate in chemical industries and refineries. It is also seen as a crucial secondary energy carrier of the future which can be used directly as fuel and feedstock for any further synthesis, as well as for the generation and storage of electricity. Nowadays, the hydrogen is predominantly produced from fossil-based sources. The production of hydrogen from biomass through gasification can be an opportune alternative for future decarbonized applications, which are based on carbon-dioxide-neutral and renewable produced hydrogen:
Ammonia is one of the largest-volume produced inorganic chemicals in the world. Most ammonia produced today is carbon intensive. Current production processes use as raw material, predominantly, natural gas or coal. One alternative and sustainable path for the production of ammonia is to produce green hydrogen and further produce ammonia via Haber Bosch process. Ammonia is nowadays widely used as a fertilizer, chemical raw material, and refrigerant. The energy density of this chemical also makes it a valuable competitor as a green alternative fuel.
Urea, which is also known as carbamide, is an organic compound that is widely produced in the chemical world. It is vastly used in the agriculture industry as a nitrogen rich fertilizer. Firstly, urea was produced industrially by the hydration of calcium cyanamide, however, the easy availability of ammonia led to the advancements in the ammonia/carbon dioxide technologies. The production of urea is a two step process where the ammonia and carbon dioxide react to form ammonium carbamate which is further dehydrated to urea. Nowadays, most of the industries use fossil-based ammonia to produce urea, however, the opportunity to use bio-ammonia has a significant impact on the environment.