Unwanted, harmful CO2 emissions could one day become a force for good.
Seven companies, including INOVYN, are currently investigating the possibility of mixing captured waste carbon dioxide with sustainably-generated hydrogen to produce methanol, a chemical widely used in everything from clothing to fuel.
It’s an ambitious project and the industrial and business leaders have until next spring to prove it can be done. And done safely.
But if successful, an industrial-scale plant, capable of producing 8,000 tonnes of sustainable methanol a year, will be built at INOVYN’s chemical manufacturing complex at Lillo.
“It would be a first for Belgium,” said Dirk Dupon, Head of Strategy at INOVYN. “In the Port of Antwerp, no methanol is currently being produced but vast quantities are being consumed in the chemical industry in Belgium, as well as blended in the fuel pool both in Antwerp and Rotterdam.”
Each company involved in the ‘Power to Methanol’ feasibility study will draw upon its own expertise and experience.
INEOS-owned INOVYN understands hydrogen production and salt electrolysis and will play a vital role.
“We will need to smoothly integrate two different operations,” said Dirk. But he is confident the project will work.
“The pre-feasibility study convinced us this sustainability project can be successful,” he said. “Combining the expertise from the different consortium partners has further increased the likelihood of success. The consortium approach reduces the risk of doing such a project on our own.”
Methanol is currently produced using fossil-based raw materials and, in the process, gives off CO2.
If the new process works well, each tonne of methanol produced would reduce CO2 emissions by at least one tonne, per tonne of methanol.
Initially the methanol will be used by fuel and chemical companies in The Port of Antwerp, which handles about 235 million tonnes of international maritime freight every year.
But future development could see it being used as a sustainable fuel to power marine vessels, such as tug boats, and road transport.
“It’s an excellent fit with our sustainability strategy,” said Dirk. “We are always looking at pursuing options for alternative energy and the sustainable, lower carbon production of chemicals.”
Others involved in this complex and challenging project include ENGIE, Oiltanking, Port of Antwerp, Indaver and PMV.
ENGIE understands the electricity market, Oiltanking can offer advice on the logistical aspects of methanol production and storage, and Indaver will advise on the collection of CO2.
“From our BIOVYN™ launch last year October, we know that there is a growing market for carbon neutral chemicals,” said Dirk.
BIOVYN™ is the latest generation of PVC and is made using a renewable biomass rather than purely gas and oil.
Flemish Minister Philippe Muyters said innovation was always the answer to challenges large and small. “We won't solve the climate problem by taxing entrepreneurs into the ground,” he said.
“This innovative project shows once again that our companies are very much part of the solution, especially when they come together and collaborate.”
Powerful consortium investigates plan to produce sustainable methanol and cut CO2
"It would be a first for Belgium" – Dirk Dupon, Head of Strategy at INOVYN.