In Germany, BSE Engineering and the Institute for Renewable Energy Systems at Stralsund University of Applied Sciences (IRES) have demonstrated the conversion of wind power into renewable methanol. Operation of this technology under dynamic conditions will be confirmed during a year-long test.
The team uses green electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen in an electrolysis step. The hydrogen is then converted to methanol using a suitable carbon dioxide source such as flue gas in a specially developed process (FlexMethanol). Methanol is a crucial base chemical; it can be used as a fuel directly, or be processed into fuel substitutes and additives such as MTBE, DME and bio diesel.
In the future, the fuel-cell-suitable crude methanol as well as the cleaned methanol will be sold industrially as e-fuel. The special feature of FlexMethanol systems from BSE is the mode of operation that is adapted to the electricity supply starting from CO2 separation, alkaline electrolysis up to distillation.—Christian Schweitzer, managing director of BSE
Prof. Dr. Johannes Gulden, Director of IRES, said that based on the reduced wind power in 2016 in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, up to 34,800 t of methanol could have been produced.
The facility in Stralsund is equipped with a tube bundle reactor for the chemical synthesis at 240°C and 40 bar using a recycle loop of the non-converted synthesis gas. A maximum capacity of 28 liters crude methanol per day is achieved. The first samples of methanol have now been produced from electricity.
Beside continuous evaluation of relevant parameters such as temperature, pressure and hydrogen as well as carbon dioxide stream, the amount and composition of gas phase and liquid products is systematically being investigated. The first analysis approves high purity of the produced crude methanol.
Development of larger plants is under way. The final results of the project with IRES will be available in line with the commissioning of the plants.