|MCI’s methanol synthesis process. Click to enlarge.|
Mitsui Chemicals Inc. (MCI) will begin construction of a pilot facility which will be used to continue the company’s efforts to develop a process to synthesize methanol from CO2.
MCI has been pursuing the development of a process for the synthesis of methanol (CH3OH)—later used in the production of olefins and aromatics—using the CO2 emitted from factories and hydrogen obtained from water photolysis. The effort is part of the company’s strategy to develop innovative processes to contribute to significant reductions of greenhouse gases.
The pilot plant, located at MCI’s Osaka plant, will have a production capacity of approximately 100 tonnes of methanol per year, using about 150-160 tonnes of CO2 emitted the Osaka plant. Construction of the ¥1.5 billion (US$13.7 million) plant will begin in October, and is due for completion in February 2009. The plant is projected to come online in March 2010.
From 1990 to 1999, MCI took part in “Chemical CO2 Immobilization Project (Entrusted by NEDO),” a project launched by the Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE).
Two aspects of RITE’s work in this area were:
A single unit photoelectrocatalysis (SUPEC) system which consists of a highly efficient thin film anatase titania photocatalyst having a photon-to-current quantum efficiency of 60%; and
An electrocatalyst consisting of zinc oxide and copper which when operated in the SUPEC system can stably convert 82% of carbon dioxide to hydrocarbons in terms of current efficiency including 44% for methane and 24% for ethylene without deactivation of the reactions by a special operating method employing a pulsed bias.
Utilizing this joint research, MCI has already succeeded in developing the ultra-high-activity catalysts which will be upgraded and used at the new pilot facility.
Masahiro Saito and Kazuhisa Murata (2004) Development of High Performance Cu/ZnO-Based Catalysts for Methanol Synthesis and the Water-Gas Shift Reaction, Catalysis Surveys from Asia, Volume 8, Number 4, December 2004, pp. 285-294(10)
Kenji Ushikoshi, Kozo Mori, Takeshi Kubota, Taiki Watanabe, and Masahiro Saito (2000) Methanol synthesis from CO2 and H2 in a bench-scale test plant, Applied Organometallic Chemistry, Volume 14 Issue 12, Pages 819 - 825>