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China’s first integrated methanol-to-hydrogen and hydrogen refueling service station now in operation

China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) officially launched China’s first methanol-to-hydrogen and hydrogen refueling service station in Dalian, China. An upgrade from the previous fueling station offering oil, gas, hydrogen, electric charging services, the integrated complex can produce 1,000 kilograms of hydrogen a day, with a purity of 99.999%.


Sinopec’s hydrogen production plant has the advantages of covering a small area, having a short construction time, and having a green, environmentally friendly production process. The new Service Station can save costs on hydrogen production, storage and transportation by more than 20% compared to traditional hydrogen refueling stations; it is intended to become a pilot model to lead the development of China's hydrogen energy industry.

China produces the most methanol in the world, accounting for 60% of the global total. The storage and transportation cost of methanol is also much lower than hydrogen, making methanol-to-hydrogen an attractive hydrogen production technology.

Sinopec’s solution has tackled the bottlenecks of low transport capacities, high costs and long loading times. In addition, the service station’s methanol-to-hydrogen and hydrogen refueling devices has an hourly production capacity of 500 standard cubic meters, yet only occupies 64 square meters of the floor area while conventional equipment of the same production capacity would take up 500 square meters of land.

Sinopec Fuel Oil Sales Co., Ltd has built two integrated fueling stations in Dalian's free trade area, with six more now under construction. With industry-leading hydrogen production efficiency, automation and intelligent capabilities, Sinopec's solution is sustainable and green— producing zero solid waste, waste water and tail gas while conserving more energy and consuming less methanol.

As part of Sinopec’s commitment to becoming China’s No.1 hydrogen energy enterprise, it has built nine hydrogen fuel cell supply centers across China.



The big advantage of this over using ammonia is that methanol is a good deal less nasty.

The big hassle is that reforming it releases CO2.

But the good news about that is that it could be stored in the methanol tanks, and returned in a circular CO2 neutral production cycle, as is planned for shipping:

Of course, that is an extra step compared to burning gasolene and letting the CO2 molecules lose wild and free, but like for like there is no disadvantage.

As for the usual this versus batteries, where batteries work in a given application you have potentially solved one of the issues, ie excessive local grid loading at peak times, as the stored methanol can be run through a generator or fuel cell to provide the peaking power on site.

The notion that there is some sort of absolute opposition where it is reasonable to select one technology and discard others is quite false.

You stick available tech together in different ways for practical solutions at any given time.


Methanol is a superb fuel for high compression even higher expansion ratio Miller cycle engines. Which when run at the peak BSFC point hit 50% thermal efficiencies. That screams for a dedicated fixed speed and output generator onboard a series hybrid vehicle be it road, rail or marine. Use LIFe PO4 blade cells which cannot catch fire,have cycle life's of 100000+ cycles @20% DOD to smooth out the peak to through power demands of a fully electrified power train. No need to convert to H2 gas than compress it for vehicular use just use the methanol direct. Fuel cells only hit 50% efficiencies at part load they are well under 40% at full loads ICE is the opposite they hit peak efficiency at 75_90% load and drop off below 50% rated power the solution is never run at anything other than 75_90% load use the hybrid system as a load bank. ICE Engines are an order of magnitude less expensive than fuel cells. Plastic fuel tanks vs carbon fiber pressure tanks are also an order of magnitude more expensive. Methanol is the answer not hydrogen gas.


@James, yes, sounds like you could make a nice liquid fueled serial hybrid with methanol and LiPo batteries.
Why not make it a PHEV serial with say 10 kWh of batteries?
OK, so you will have probably a 70-80% DOD - what does that do to the cycle count?
+ stick a 400w PV on the roof and get 2 kWh free in summer - 6 free miles per day.


Does China have the answer to competitive hydrogen production?
They may have found a solution just like they did with solar panels and electric cars.
First, China leads the world in Methanol production, almost all of it is “Gray Methanol”, predominately from Coal and Blast Furnace Coke.
Step 1: Clean up Methanol production:
Carbon Recycling International SHUNLI CO2-to-methanol production.
Step 2: On-Site Methanol-based hydrogen generation technology.
Element 1 (Oregon, USA) formed a joint venture company with Zhejiang Methanol Hydrogen Technology (ZMHT) and Zhejiang Element 1 (e1China). The JV will drive methanol-based hydrogen generation technology and commercialize e1NA’s unique technology throughout Greater China.
Step 3: Capture CO2 from the Methanol to H2 Generator.
Integrate Aramco’s carbon capture technology with e1’s methanol-to-hydrogen generator.

China plans to build FCEV (predominately Buses and large Trucks) and 1000 Hydrogen stations.


@mahonj why would you go to 80% DOD on the pack when you have a range extender generator that can be run at higher than fuel cell efficiency at 75% load. You put in a 20kwh LiFePO4 pack. A model 3 sizes EV goes 4 miles per kwh 20% DOD in a 20kwh pack is 4 kwh that takes your vehicle 16 miles more in bumper to bumper traffic with regen. The energy to slow a vehicle from 60mph to zero is under a kwh so a 20kwh pack will take it all when at 95% charge level or less. The key is only running the genset at its peak efficiency point then shut it down just like a start stop system does at traffic lights. You run a 60hp Miller cycle engine at 85% load @48+% eff that puts 50kw to the pack putting 4 kwh takes 4.8 minutes call it 5 while stationary. Running at 60mph 15kw is being used to drive the wheels so only 35 is charging the pack up. It would take 6.8 minutes to put 4 kwh into the pack. Then you shut down the genset and use the pack for 16 miles of driving. At 60mph thats 16 min of drive time then 7 more of genset time. In a on off cycle maximising the efficiency of the genset and the cycle life of the cells which at 20% DOD is in the 100,000+ range. At 16 miles per cycle that well over a million and half miles life far further than any noncommercial vehicle will ever go in its lifetime. Going with a 20kwh pack and 60% DOD would yield 48 miles to 60% DOD and 10000 cycles allowing for 90+% of all trips to be purely electric of the pack has a plug in charge option while still allowing for long distance travels with genset, pack ,genset ,pack cycles every 15 min or so till the tank is dry something an EV can never do. The trade off for plug in range is cycle life loss but with 10,000 cycles @ 48 miles per cycle that's still 480,000 miles give the user the option in the programming to set the DOD point where the genset kicks in and let them decide how important plug in range vs genset usage is. In the USA fully 95% of all trips are 30 miles or less with nearly 60% being 6 miles or less. The total average daily commute average is less than 40 miles round trip in the USA so vehicle I just described could with 60% DOD cover all of those miles with electric from the grid or better yet solar panels on the garage roof you only need 10kwh for a 40 mile commute my 10kw system on my roof would do that in an hours time at local noon. While leaving me with a vehicle that could burn methanol,ethanol,butanol or isopropanol for 500+ mile long trips with zero range issues and refueling times of under 5 minutes.


Methanol has a LHV of 15.6 MJ/L
Ethanol is 24
Butanol is 29.2
Gasoline is 33

Miller cycle engine @ peak efficiency point is 48% BSFC to mechanical motion.

AC generator plus rectifier diodes can be 95% at its peak efficiency point and since we are designing for a single operating point it would be designed to that point.

15 kw goes from the genset to the inverters and wheels loose another 5% there.

So 15.6*.48*.95*95=6.797 mj/l net there is 3.6mj to the kwh so 1.877 kwh/L which takes a model 3 sized car 7.5 miles per litre or for the Americans 28.42 miles per US gallon that with a fuel that has half the energy as gasoline. A 70 liter tank which is the avg size for a sedan filled with methanol would give a range of 525 miles if just running the genset continuously at its peak efficiency point. Since we have to account for the 35 kw going into and out of the pack each off on cycle we lose another 10% or so round trip. But the ratio of engine on vs off is 7/16 or 43% genset on vs pack depletion so only 57% of the miles have the extra 10% pack round trip losses. 525 minus the 57% miles with the extra 10% pack loses give a combined 70L range of 495 miles.

Ethanol changes things running the same numbers on a 70 liter tank shows 11.55 miles per litre to the wheels and a 70 liter tank goes 808 miles taking out 10% from the 57% pack miles drops that to 761 miles.

Butanol allows for really long range travel. 14 miles per liter and 900+ miles per 70L tank zero range anxiety with those massive ranges you could cross the continent in three tanks with butanol.

Butanol isopropyl and ethanol can be made directly from cellulose with IBE microorganisms isopropyl has a MJ/L between ethanol and butanol am engine optimised for high octane methanol can burn any of the C1-C4 alcohols just as well all of them have octane numbers above 105 some in the 130s

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