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BASF and Envision Energy collaborate to accelerate conversion of green hydrogen and CO2 to e-methanol

BASF process catalysts, a leading provider of innovative catalyst technology, announced a new collaboration with Envision Energy. The collaboration aims to develop further the conversion of green hydrogen and CO2 into e-methanol through an advanced, dynamic process design.

Backed by their respective expertise, the two companies aim to optimize the process of producing e-methanol from green hydrogen and CO2, paving the way for a more sustainable energy landscape. BASF will provide its SYNSPIRE catalyst technology, which Envision Energy will integrate with its energy management system.

The two organizations plan to demonstrate the viability of the advanced process design next year, at Envision Energy’s Chifeng site in Inner Mongolia, China.

BASF says that its new catalyst enables the efficient conversion of green hydrogen and CO2 into e-methanol. E-methanol offers immense potential to replace fossil fuels and their derivatives gasoline and kerosene by providing an alternative source of energy for road, shipping and air transport, as well as other industries. Not only can e-methanol be used without a change in infrastructure, but its inherent stability also allows it to be stored at room temperature and ambient pressure, giving it an indefinite shelf life, thereby to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote a more sustainable energy ecosystem.

Envision Energy will design a process package that maximizes the efficiency of the catalyst technology while fully enabling the dynamic conversion of green hydrogen and CO2 into e-methanol, in sync with the onstream time of wind power. Envision Energy will leverage its AIoT (Artificial Intelligence of Things) platforms to optimize the novel, dynamic mode of chemical plant operation.


Roger Brown

"Backed by their respective expertise, the two companies aim to optimize the process of producing e-methanol from green hydrogen and CO2, paving the way for a more sustainable energy landscape."

Being "more sustainable" is kind of like being a little bit pregnant. Either we achieve sustainability or we don't. Any fuel source which is dependent on fossil sources of carbon is not sustainable even if it does make more efficient use of carbon. Until someone shows how e-ethanol can be used with zero net CO2 emissions the label sustainable should not be applied to this fuel.


When you get the biocarbon from gasification you get a lot of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, you need more hydrogen from solar and wind, then you create whatever fuel you want, gas or liquid.
Since you get carbon monoxide, you don't have to convert carbon dioxide, one of the advantages cellulose biomass.
There are 100 million acres of corn stocks in the United States we can make all the jet fuel for all the planes in the US renewably.


Ships gotta sail, planes gotta fly, nonetheless sustainability is the goal.
How do we get there and how fast?
We can live light with smaller homes, less stuff, local vacations, tightly packed communities, local production, shared resources, plant diets, fewer kids. Some carbon will forever likely be used to carry hydrogen. Earth's atmospheric temperature must be controlled by removing carbon, not by adding to it. Hopefully we'll get the balance right in the next 50 years or we fail as a species.

Roger Brown


"Realize the value of leaving residue in the field. Residue should be left in the field as it protects the soil to reduce erosion and conserve water, critical in dryland production. The residue mulch greatly reduces evaporation, saving three to five inches of water over the growing season.

The nutrients in the removed residue will need to be replaced with increased fertilizer rates. Estimates are that for every ton of corn grain produced, about one ton of stover is produced. With 200 bushel corn, there would be 11,200 pounds of corn grain, or 5.6 tons of grain, and about 5 tons of stover. Each ton of stover contains about 17 pounds of nitrogen, 4 pounds of phosphorus, and 50 pounds of potassium. If residue is removed, these nutrients need to be replaced. Removing too much residue over several years will lead to a decrease in organic matter as the carbon in the residue isn't being returned to the soil."


The consensus in agriculture is you leave half on the land,
if you leave it all on the land it rots and out gases CO2 and methane.


Thanks guys.
I dunno much about the biomass route, so it is informative.

Unfortunately there seem to be, as far as I am aware, no plans to ramp SAF at anything like the rate it is planned to increase the long distance flight build and use.

Perhaps you have more info on the subject?


Sustainable aviation fuel has become a big issue it's how you make it that matters.
If you make it out of plant oil you have to plant palm oil trees, that's not a good way to go for large quantities. You can use corn oil but we have uses for that right now it's just like cellulose ethanol you're using the stalks instead of the grain. In this case you use the stocks to get carbon and hydrogen you add more hydrogen from solar and wind electrolysis so the oxygen for industry and medicine.

As far as the nutrients for the soil you can return the nutrients from thermochemical process of getting the carbon and hydrogen it doesn't go to waste and you don't need to create it but leaving the stalks in the field and not bailing them causes them to rot in the fall, winter and spring... bad idea.


The most important takeaway is to understand the difference between the two renewable Methanol products.
Biomethanol is produced from biomass
Key potential sustainable biomass feedstocks include: forestry and agricultural waste and by-products, biogas from landfill, sewage, municipal solid waste (MSW) and black liquor from the pulp and paper industry.
Green e-methanol is obtained by using CO2 captured from renewable sources (bioenergy with carbon capture and storage [BECCS] and direct air capture [DAC]) and green hydrogen, i.e. hydrogen produced with renewable electricity.
Very little renewable methanol is produced today, mostly as bio-methanol. Mostly made from NG (Methanex, the largest producer) and coal (methanol from China).

Envision Energy, a Chinese company that manufactures wind turbines and this plant will be “at Envision Energy’s Chifeng site in Inner Mongolia, China.”
China is betting on Methanol. Currently, most is produced from coal.
“ Recently, the world's first commercial-scale CO2-to-methanol plant started production in Henan Province, which creates methanol fuel from carbon captured during lime production and hydrogen recovered from coke-ovens. The process is based on technology developed by Carbon Recycling International, which was first demonstrated in Iceland.”

Also, e-methanol will be an important fuel for shipping, again an important area for China. This will replace Bunker Oil, so definitely “more sustainable”.


You can think of plants as being nature's direct air capture,
they do it a lot less expensively then we can.


Each ton of corn residue contains 17 lb N, 4 lb P2O5, 37 lb K, and 3 lb S. With rising fertilizer prices, stalks this fall will contain up to $34 worth of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and sulfur per ton.

Considering that they get up to 200 bushels per acre at five dollars for bushel that's $1,000 in corn grain per acre. $34 doesn't seem like a whole lot to be worrying about lost in stalks and again you can recover so much at the gasification plant and return it to the field.


SJC said:

' You can think of plants as being nature's direct air capture,'

Yep, and it is the only DAC I believe in. At a very affordable cost we can actually take out CO2, salt in, and lock it away:

Personally I would sooner do that with any stuff we don't need to maintain soil fertility than build umteen new long range aircraft under the dubious premise that someday SAF will be competitive, and enable a massive expansion of long distance travel at some affordable GHG rate, for purposes which are unclear.

About as sensible as ever larger cruise ships in Venice.


They have developed, they say, a far better catalyst for the production of methanol:

' Researchers hope to produce the raw material methanol at the edge of a field or on the farm using renewable energy. In addition to wind or sun, water and CO2 would be needed to produce the raw materials for the green methanol process: carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2), which react catalytically to form methanol.

This is made possible by a new catalyst developed in Rostock. A process based on this completely dispenses with fossil raw materials. And it is highly selective, producing virtually no by-products.

The catalyst is based on manganese, as Gordon Neitzel from the Leibniz Institute for Catalysis (LIKAT) explains, "The metal atom forms the catalytic center. It is fixed and protected by a kind of scaffold, the so-called ligand."

Lewis Cleverdon

Davemart - thanks for this news.

A catalyst that can cut the requisite temperature and pressure for syngas conversion to methanol by 50%, as well as halving the residence time, is a big deal for cost reductions. If it can be applied in efficient miniaturized plants to suit small-catchment sustainable forestry operations (minimizing feedstock haulage) or even in mobile plants able to use farms biomass resources. it could be of seminal impact.

Roger Brown

I read a proposal ( about using ethanol as a hydrogen carrier. The system shuttles back and forth between ethanol (C2H6O) and ethyl acetate (C4H8O2) via the reactions:

2 C2H6O ==> C4H8O2 +2 H2

C4H8O2 + 2 H2 ==> 2 C2H6O

You have to synthesize some ethanol or ethyl acetate to initiate the system, but then you can just shuttle the ethanol/ethyl acetate back and forth between the hydrogen production site and the hydrogen use site. If there are some losses in the process then some amount of new feedstock would have to be synthesized, but since the required amount is much lower then the opportunity costs of either biological production or e-production will be lower than in the case where ethanol is used directly as a fuel.


Hi Roger.
From your link:

'We conclude that the heating and cooling required to maintain H2 partial pressure present a significant engineering challenge for widespread deployment of this system.'


Michael Barnard at Clean Technica is not a fan of Methanol for shipping.
His post from 11 months ago covers the debate very well: “ Dismissal Of Methanol As Marine Fuel Leads To Pushback”,
The standard production of Methanol produces large amounts of CO2, so the first effort must be to clean up the current process. BASF and Linde using the SYNSPIRE catalyst are looking into producing methanol with no carbon dioxide should emitted during the entire production process.
Read more here:


Casting my deeply inexpert eyes over your first link:

I find that he does not give enough detail for evaluation there of his preferred alternative of 'other biofuels'

He does say:

' Tang’s business line will dominate your energy division instead, and your marine engine business is going to be hurting as well with electrification.'

Which made my eyebrows shoot up somewhat towards my ever receeding hairline.

'Electrification?' when we are mainly talking about bulk goods and long distance?

Sure, ferries and whatever, but electrification for the big stuff seems likely to be marginal at most.

But the real rub, which presumably he has covered elsewhere, it what are his pathways to whatever biofuel he prefers, and how is it better than methanol?

No idea from the link,


Tracked down Michael Barnard's preferred alternatives:

In my view he mixes reasonable, or at least arguable, points with assertations without identifying the assumptions underlying them.

' Moving on into 2021 after a deep dive on grid storage, I finally engaged fully with aviation, which is one of the hard to decarbonize segments. The answer became very clear when I started looking at the physics and economics. Hydrogen wasn’t going to be it. Too expensive to operate, likely impossible to certify, and would radically diminish cargo and passenger loads. And these are hard limits of physics, not subject to technical innovation. This is very well understood stuff.'

Is AFAIK, cobblers confounding what we are able to do at the moment with assumed limits.

'likely impossible to certify' ?? Airbus is pretty well connected to Government, and they are pressing ahead.

Anyone who has the remotest idea of the connections between, say, French industry and the French government which is integral to Airbus should be able to spot that Michael has transitioned to what he hopes for a tech he does not fancy.

Of course he is perfectly correct that converting current aircraft will lead to reduced load and passenger capacity, and as far as we can responsibly predict hydrogen won't be part of very long haul air transport, but 'hard limit of physics?'

'Not subject to technical innovation' - accelerating away from reason.

I hope, although his other stuff does not lead me to expect, that his assesment of biofuels is in touch with reality.



Your other two links seems to be much as I thought to be the case, with considerable optimist about low carbon production of methanol.

Or at any rate, I hope that they pan out!


And Bernard's:

' Too expensive to operate, likely impossible to certify, and would radically diminish cargo and passenger loads. And these are hard limits of physics, not subject to technical innovation. This is very well understood stuff.''

' “FlyZero presented physics-based models of three study aircraft of increasing size and range,” explains FlyZero chief propulsion engineer, Simon Webb. “It found a hydrogen-powered mid-size aircraft carrying 280 passengers could travel anywhere in the world with one refueling stop. That changed industry perceptions of hydrogen as a future net-zero fuel.”

' hard limits of physics, not subject to technical innovation.' according to Bernard!!!

To be clear, I am not expecting transcontinental travel powered by hydrogen within the foreseeable future, but Bernard is talking absolute nonsense and exposing himself terribly.


If you look at the economics of direct air capture versus biomass thermal chemical the direct capture could be OK below $100 a ton per ton of carbon dioxide, unfortunately you have to turn the carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide to make fuels from synthesis gas, so the economics are not quite there yet, but could be someday.

Lewis Cleverdon

SJC - given that some readers might be unaware of it, I’d point out that you touch on another reason for biomass-sourced methanol being inherently cheaper to produce than that sourced from e-H2 + DAC CO2; - the pyrolysis gasification of biomass produces its carbon content mostly as CO, not CO2.

Lewis Cleverdon

Davemart - The threat that green methanol usage potentially poses to global sales of bunker fuel, of diesel, of jet fuel, and of NG as feedstock for fossil methanol, may eventually amount to hundreds of billions of dollars per year, and the fossil lobby is doubtless well aware of it and has long had misinformation efforts in hand.

If Barnard is not a part of those efforts, his incoherent but seductive critiques of the green methanol options could easily be mistaken as being so. An alternative explanation would involve a surprising degree of stupidity. I should like to know why he is given a platform.



At one time I was hopeful that DAC might represent eventually a real, usable cost effective technology.

I have since become persuaded that is is unworkable. Here is 'Engineering with Rosie' analysing why it appears to be greenwashing:


I don't normally quote very old studies, but since Bernard's allegation is that:

' And these are hard limits of physics, not subject to technical innovation. This is very well understood stuff.''

then these guys in 2009 would have been as up on theoretical limits as anyone, since they presumably unlike Bernard have deep expertise in all relevant disciplines:


' For aircraft with a passenger load around 400 passengers, takeoff weight reductions around 25% can be obtained for similar operating empty weights and fuel weights of about 30% of the equivalent kerosene fuel weight. For 550 passenger aircraft however, the takeoff weight reduction reduces strongly due to the need for a triple deck fuselage and the resulting increase in fuselage mass. Whereas for the first category of aircraft, a 3 to 6 times higher fuel price per energy content can be afforded for similar direct operating costs, this cost advantage is reduced by about a third for the 550 passenger aircraft.'

It is one heck of a long journey to actually do it, but the theoretical limits Bernard imagines seem to be entirely in his head.

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