KAUST team investigates methanol-DME blends for compression ignition

Highly fuel-efficient new engine designs could significantly reduce the environmental impact of combustion-engined vehicles, especially if the engines run on renewable non-petroleum-based fuels. Ensuring these unconventional fuels are compatible with next-generation engines was the aim of a new computational study on fuel ignition behavior at KAUST. A paper on their... Read more →

New photocatalyst for the hydrogenation of CO2 to methanol with high selectivity at atmospheric pressure

Researchers from Soochow University in China and the University of Toronto have developed a new photocatalyst for the hydrogenation of CO2 to methanol with 50% selectivity under simulated solar irradiation. A paper on their work appears in the journal Joule. The solar methanol production of the defect-laden indium oxide, In2O3-x(OH)y,... Read more →

For the last 18 months, a fleet of 6 methanol-fueled versions of the Geely Emgrand 7 cars have been in Iceland. Geely is a shareholder ($45.5-million investment in 2015) in Carbon Recycling International (CRI), an Icelandic company which produces renewable methanol using recycled CO2 emissions sourced from a local thermal... Read more →

Scientists develop method for direct conversion of methane to methanol or acetic acid under mild conditions

Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, Tufts University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have shown that mononuclear rhodium species, anchored on a zeolite or titanium dioxide support suspended in aqueous solution, can catalyze the direct conversion of methane to methanol and acetic acid using oxygen and carbon monoxide under mild conditions.... Read more →

Eni, FCA partner on R&D to cut road vehicle CO2 emissions; methanol/ethanol blends, renewable diesel, ANG, on-board CO2 capture

The chief executive of Eni, Claudio Descalzi, and the chief executive of FCA, Sergio Marchionne, signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the joint development of research projects and technological applications aimed at reducing CO2 emissions from road transport vehicles. The two companies, renewing their strategic commitment to a low-carbon future... Read more →

BASF and bse Engineering have signed an exclusive joint development agreement for BASF to provide custom-made catalysts for a new chemical energy storage process. This process will enable the economically viable transformation of excess power and off-gas carbon dioxide into methanol in small-scale, decentralized production units. In addition to being... Read more →

Chemists from the US Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory and their collaborators have definitively identified the active sites of a catalyst commonly used for making methanol from CO2. The results, published in the journal Science, resolve a longstanding debate about exactly which catalytic components take part in the chemical... Read more →

China team develops highly efficient catalyst for low-temperature aqueous phase refoming of methanol to produce hydrogen

Researchers in China, along with colleagues in the US, have developed a new catalyst that shows outstanding hydrogen-production activity and stability in the low-temperature aqueous phase reforming of methanol (APRM). In a paper in the journal Nature, the team reports that platinum (Pt) atomically dispersed on α-molybdenum carbide (α-MoC) enables... Read more →

China is the global leader in methanol use and has recently expanded its methanol production capacity. Now, a study commissioned by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) from Argus Media (a global provider of analysis on energy and commodities), finds that since the early 2000s, China’s consumption of methanol in... Read more →

FCA presents Fiat 500 M15 (methanol); to be sold in Israel

At the Fuel Choices Summit in Israel this week, FCA presented the Fiat 500 M15—a retail-ready version of the Fiat 500 that runs on a blend of 85% gasoline and 15% methanol; is compliant with the Euro 6 New European Driving Cycle (NEDC); delivers a 2% CO2 reduction compared with... Read more →

A partnership comprising AkzoNobel, Van Gansewinkel, Air Liquide, AVR and Enerkem is proposing to build a waste-to-chemicals plant in Rotterdam in collaboration with the Port of Rotterdam, the City of Rotterdam, the province of South Holland and InnovationQuarter. The new chemical plant will use Enerkem’s innovative technology to convert residual... Read more →

Zhejiang University team investigates emissions from methanol-gasoline blends

Globally, the use of methanol as an alternative fuel has attracted interest because of its low production cost, renewable capacity, and good combustion-related properties (higher thermal efficiency, higher engine power, and lower regulated emissions). In China in particular, there are abundant coal resources, and the technology of using coal to... Read more →

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists have combined biology and 3-D printing to create the first reactor that can continuously produce methanol from methane at room temperature and pressure. Methane monooxygenases (MMOs), found in methanotrophic bacteria, are selective catalysts for methane activation and conversion to methanol under mild conditions; however, these... Read more →

Researchers at Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute and Department of Chemistry, University of Southern California, have developed a highly efficient homogeneous Ru-based catalyst system for the production of methanol (CH3OH) from CO2 and H2 in an ethereal solvent (initial turnover frequency = 70 h−1 at 145 °C). In a paper published... Read more →

EERC working with Fuel Cell Energy on $3.5M ARPA-E project for electrochemical cell to convert natural gas to methanol

The University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) is working with FuelCell Energy, Inc., an integrated stationary fuel cell manufacturer, to develop a durable, low-cost, and high-performance electrochemical cell to convert natural gas and other methane-rich gas into methanol, a major chemical commodity with worldwide applications in... Read more →

Researchers at Tsinghua University in China are studying the effects of Dual-Fuel Spark Ignition (DFSI) combustion fueled with different alcohols and gasoline. In one paper, published in the journal Fuel, they investigated the use of alcohols–gasoline DFSI Combustion for knock suppression and high fuel efficiency using a gasoline engine with... Read more →

Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory have identified a new material to catalyze the conversion of CO2 via hydrogenation to methanol (CH3OH): size-selected Cu4 clusters—clusters of four copper atoms each, called tetramers—supported on Al2O3 thin films. In a study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the team measured... Read more →

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (Geely Group) will invest a total of US$45.5 million in Carbon Recycling International (CRI). The investment consists of an initial investment and additional purchases of CRI equity over a 3-year period. Geely Group will become a major shareholder of CRI and will gain representation on the... Read more →

Hydrogenics to supply 1MW electrolyzer to project converting CO2 to methanol; Power-to-Gas

Hydrogenics Corporation will supply a 1MW electrolyzer and provide engineering expertise to a consortium of companies working on the European project MefCO2 (methanol fuel from CO2) in Germany. The application will take excess electricity from intermittent renewable energy sources, generate green hydrogen, and then create methanol using a low-carbon footprint... Read more →

Researchers ID structure of key intermediate in enzyme converting methane to methanol; potential for synthetic fuels

A team from the University of Minnesota and Michigan State University has identified the structure of the key intermediate “Q” in the enzyme methane monooxygenase (MMO). MMO catalyzes the O2-dependent conversion of methane to methanol in methanotrophic bacteria, thereby preventing the emission into the atmosphere of approximately one billion tons... Read more →

UCLA researchers develop synthetic biocatalytic pathway for more efficient conversion of methanol to longer-chain fuels

Researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science led by Dr. James Liao have developed a more efficient way to turn methanol into useful chemicals, such as liquid fuels, and that would also reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The UCLA team constructed a synthetic biocatalytic pathway that... Read more →

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a final greenhouse gas (GHG) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) construction permit to Natgasoline LLC to construct a new motor-grade gasoline production facility in Texas that uses natural gas as feedstock (gas-to-gasoline, or GtG). Natgasoline is a new wholly owned greenfield methanol... Read more →

Maverick Synfuels (earlier post) introduced a small-scale, modular methane-to-methanol production plant that can be co-located at the methane source. The Maverick Oasis system allows producers to monetize biogas and natural gas (including associated or flare gas, and stranded gas reserves), as an alternative to producing electricity or venting greenhouse gases... Read more →

Top: Components of well-to-wheels pathway. Middle: WTW efficiency for CNGVs. Bottom: WTW efficiency for EVs. Curran et al. Click to enlarge. A well-to-wheels analysis of the use of natural gas for passenger vehicles by a team of researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has found that, with a high... Read more →

Scanning tunneling microscope image of a cerium-oxide and copper catalyst (CeOx-Cu) used in the transformation of CO2 and H2 to methanol (CH3OH) and water. In the presence of hydrogen, the Ce4+ and Cu1+ are reduced to Ce3+ and Cu0 with a change in the structure of the catalyst surface. Source:... Read more →

Carbon dioxide recycling in the methanol economy Source: Olah et al. 2009, earlier post. Click to enlarge. A report prepared by ISIS (Institute of Studies for the Integration of Systems - Italy) together with Tecnalia (Spain) for the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) discusses the technological, environmental and economic barriers... Read more →

New nickel-gallium catalyst could lead to low-cost, clean production of methanol; small-scale, low-pressure devices

Scientists from Stanford University, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Technical University of Denmark have identified a new nickel-gallium catalyst that converts hydrogen and carbon dioxide into methanol at ambient pressure and with fewer side-products than the conventional catalyst. The results are published in the journal Nature Chemistry. The researchers... Read more →

DOE soliciting projects in advanced coal gasification for high carbon-capture power production and/or liquid fuels

The US DOE is soliciting (DE-FOA-0001051) projects for up to $10 million in awards to target technological advancements to lower the cost of producing hydrogen and/or high-hydrogen syngas from coal for use in 90% carbon capture power generation and/or gasification-based liquid (transportation) fuel production: methanol or diesel. Liquid fuel production... Read more →

Converting glycerol from biodiesel production into bio-gasoline

A team at the University of Idaho has demonstrated that glycerol, a byproduct from biodiesel production, could be used as a substrate for producing drop-in gasoline-range biofuel. In a paper published in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels, Guanqun Luo and Armando G. McDonald describe their study of converting methanol... Read more →

New fuel booster valve for ME-LGI engine showing the main constituent parts. Click to enlarge. On 1 July MAN Diesel & Turbo announced the development of a new ME-LGI dual fuel engine. The new engine expands the company’s dual-fuel portfolio, enabling the use of more sustainable fuels such as methanol... Read more →

Summary of levelized production cost estimates of fuel (LCOF) for the examined plant designs. The horizontal red lines show the comparable price of gasoline (before tax, refining margin 0.3 $/gal, exchange rate: 1 € = 1.326 $) with crude oil prices 100 $/bbl and 150 $/bbl. Source: VTT. A study... Read more →

German researchers improve catalyst for steam reforming of methanol with salt coating; enabler for renewable energy storage systems

Researchers at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg (Germany) report in the journal Angewandte Chemie their development of an enhanced platinum catalyst for the steam reforming of methanol to release hydrogen. A central problem of renewable energy technology lies in the great variation of energy generated (i.e., intermittency). One proposed solution is... Read more →

Schematic diagram of the Primus STG+ process. Click to enlarge. Primus Green Energy Inc., developer of a proprietary process to produce gasoline and other fuels from biomass and/or natural gas (earlier post), will provide financial support to engineers at Princeton University for general research on synthetic fuels, which will include... Read more →

Cartoon of the process. Click to enlarge. Researchers at Columbia University have developed a biological process utilizing autotrophic ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) for the conversion of methane (CH4) to methanol (CH3OH). A paper on their work is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology. In fed-batch reactors using mixed... Read more →

Researchers from the US and China have determined that a duckweed biorefinery producing a range of gasoline, diesel and kerosene products can be economically competitive with petroleum-based processes, even in some cases without environmental legislation that penalizes greenhouse gas emissions. A paper describing their analysis of four different scenarios for... Read more →

(a) Schematic pathway for a homogeneously catalyzed methanol reforming process via three discrete dehydrogenation steps. (b) Best performing catalysts. Nielsen et al. Click to enlarge. Researchers from Germany and Italy have developed an efficient low-temperature catalytic process to produce hydrogen from methanol. Hydrogen generation by this method proceeds at 65–95... Read more →

New catalyst for efficient bi-reforming of methane from any source for methanol and hydrocarbon synthesis; “metgas”

Researchers at the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute and Department of Chemistry, University of Southern California, have developed a new catalyst based on nickel oxide on magnesium oxide (NiO/MgO) that is effective for the bi-reforming with steam and CO2 (combined steam and dry reforming) of methane as well as natural gas... Read more →

The ExxonMobil MTG process flow diagram. Source: EMRE. Click to enlarge. Sundrop Fuels, Inc., a gasification-based drop-in advanced biofuels company, finalized a licensing agreement to use ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company’s methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) technology to be incorporated into a “green gasoline” production facility. Located near Alexandria, Louisiana, Sundrop Fuels plans... Read more →

Cascade catalysis for the lower temperature conversion of CO2 to methanol. Credit: ACS, Huff and Sanford. Click to enlarge. Researchers at the University of Michigan have demonstrated the viability of cascade catalysis—i.e., the use of a series of different homogeneous catalysts operating in a single vessel—for the reduction of CO2... Read more →

Update on Celanese plans for commercialization of TCX hydrocarbons-to-ethanol process; scale and economics

Celanese Corporation, developer of a hydrocarbons-to-ethanol production process derived from its acetyl technology (earlier post) announced plans in June to enter the industrial ethanol market in China by revamping the market entry strategy to allow the company to enter 6-12 months sooner than originally planned. (Earlier post.) In a recent... Read more →

Overview of the process. Click to enlarge. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) have developed a one-pot process for the catalytic conversions of wood and cellulosic solids to liquid and gaseous products in a reactor operating at 300–320 °C and 160-220 bar. Little or no char is... Read more →

Anthropogenic chemical carbon cycle. Click to enlarge. In a Perspective published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, researchers from the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute and Department of Chemistry, University of Southern California describe their work on developing the feasible anthropogenic recycling of carbon dioxide. Under their scheme, carbon... Read more →

Binding pocket representation of P450 enzyme with activator (perfluoro chain in green) and docking poses of a methane cluster (carbon atoms in black and hydrogen atoms in white) hovering above Fe=O (red) in the porphyrin ring. Zilly et al. Click to enlarge. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Carbon... Read more →

NREL teaming with Oorja to validate direct methanol fuel cell technology in material handling applications

The US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is collaborating with Oorja Protonics, a developer and manufacturer of direct methanol fuel cell technology (earlier post) on a two-year project to deploy and demonstrate methanol fuel cells for power pallet jacks in four commercial wholesale distribution centers. The total... Read more →

Taking another look at methanol as an alternative transportation fuel for the US

A recent white paper by Leslie Bromberg of MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center and Wai K. Cheng of the Sloan Automotive Laboratory assessing the prospects for methanol as an alternative transportation fuel in the US concludes that methanol is a safe and viable transportation fuel, although it not as... Read more →

TEM image of Pt/RGO1. Click to enlarge. Scientists at the University of Ulster’s Nanotechnology Institute and collaborators from Peking University and University of Oxford have developed reduced graphene oxide/platinum supported electrocatalysts (Pt/RGO) that could make fuel cells more efficient and more resistant to carbon monoxide poisoning. The new electrocatalyst design... Read more →

Study finds highly-turbocharged alcohol-fueled DISI engines could be more efficient than diesels

Highly turbocharged alcohol-fueled direct-injection spark-ignition (DISI) engines operated at a high compression ratio could be as or more efficient than diesel engines while also providing advantages of lower vehicle cost, lower emissions and higher power, according to a recent modeling study by Leslie Bromberg and Daniel Cohn at MIT. In... Read more →

Uhde Gasification Selected for Commercial Biomass-to-Methanol Plant in Sweden

VärmlandsMetanol AB has selected Uhde, a ThyssenKrupp company, as technology supplier and engineering partner for a biomass-to-methanol plant in Hagfors, Sweden, with an annual production of 100,000 tonnes of fuel-grade methanol from forest-residue biomass. Investment for the plant will be about SEK 3 billion (US$416 million). The VärmlandsMetanol plant will... Read more →

SOEC cells with a proton-conducting electrolyte can operate at lower temperatures and can be used to produce different kinds of synthetic fuels. Cells with an oxide ion-conducting electrolyte require a high operating temperature which will cause the synthetic fuels to split. This type can therefore only be used to produce... Read more →

Ford’s sustainable materials strategy. Click to enlarge. Ford is increasing the use of renewable and recyclable materials such as the soy and bio-based seat cushions and seatbacks on the 2010 Ford Taurus. Ford vehicles are now 85% recyclable by weight. In 2009, Ford saved approximately $4.5 million by using recycled... Read more →