Carbon Recycling International has been awarded a €1.8-million (US$2.0-million) grant under the EU Horizon 2020 Research Programme to increase the scale of its CO2-to-methanol technology, marketed under the trademark Emissions-to-Liquids (ETL).
The grant will allow CRI to accelerate efforts to commercialize large scale production plants, expanding the market for ETL technology and use of renewable methanol in Europe.
The project is referred to as “CirclEnergy” as CRI’s technology is designed to support and enable the transition to circular economy.
CRI’s ETL technology consist of five process modules.
CO2 capture and clean-up: Waste gases are captured from the points of emission at the stack and transferred to the gas conditioning system where impurities are removed to produce CO2 suitable for downstream methanol synthesis. CO2 is available in abundance in high concentration in many industrial processes and thermal power plants (here CRI focusing on geothermal power and waste to energy). In many ethanol production and biogas processes. CO2 is readily available.
Hydrogen generation: Hydrogen can be generated by water electrolysis using MW-scale electrolyzer technology, utilizing renewable electricity to produce pressurized high purity H2 and O2 gases.
Compression: Reaction gas is prepared by mixing H2 and CO2.
Methanol synthesis: After the CO2 and H2 feedstock has been obtained at sufficient purity and concentration, the same catalytic conversion unit is required to convert the gas into crude methanol, a mixture of methanol and water, at elevated temperature and pressure. The reaction is highly exothermic. Heat recovery from the reactor can be practiced to supply steam to the distillation unit.
Methanol purification: In distillation column(s) the crude methanol is separated into methanol (at design purity/quality) and water for re-use or disposal.
CRI developed the ETL technology to produce low-carbon intensity methanol from CO2 and hydrogen and operates the first production facility of its kind in Iceland. The company is currently developing commercial projects based on the ETL technology with partners in Europe and China. The technology allows partners to valorise CO2 and hydrogen from waste streams or electrolysis as a chemical feedstock or liquid fuel.
A jury appointed by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program recognized the ETL technology’s potential to support significant reduction in fossil fuel use by capturing and recycling carbon emissions from industrial processes that will remain vital to the functioning of modern societies, such as steel, cement and chemicals manufacturing.
The jury also considered how ETL is designed to produce methanol, a widely used fuel and chemical feedstock with a wide range of application in industry and potential to facilitate the energy transition in the transport sector.