New Publication – Case story: Green methanol from biogas in Denmark

Dec 2020

Methanol is the simplest alcohol with a chemical formula CH3OH. It is a light, volatile, colourless, flammable liquid with a specific alcohol odour. Methanol has many uses as chemical or as fuel component. Global methanol production currently amounts to about 80 million metric tonnes per year and is generally produced from natural gas or coal. “Green” methanol (or bio-methanol) may be produced via biological pathways (anaerobic digestion), thermo-chemical pathways (gasification) or electrofuel pathways (power to gas).

Danish projects are examining the production of green methanol based on biogas. The applied technology involves splitting biogas into CO and hydrogen (H2) using an electrically driven catalytic converter with additional energy injection in the form of hydrogen (from electrolysis) to convert the products into methanol. A pilot facility is under construction at the research centre in Foulum which is expected to produce 10 kg methanol per hour from 2022. The experience and the technology developed can be translated into an industrial system with the objective for the technology to be cost-effective at a scale suited to a large biogas plant.

Large scale production of green methanol from biogas could be economically competitive with grey methanol from natural gas when utilizing circular economy systems (wastes to anaerobic digestion, curtailed electricity used for hydrogen and valorisation of O2) and significant carbon taxes are imposed on fossil fuels. The use of biomethanol as liquid biofuel offers solutions to reduce the climate impact of road transport or shipping.