National Planning Agency approves environmental impact assessment for CRI's CO2-to-methanol plant

The National Planning Agency has approved Carbon Recycling International's environmental impact assessment for the CO2-to-methanol plant in Svartsengi, Grindavik, Iceland. The plant meets all applicable legal and regulatory requirements. The agency concludes that the plant will have negligible impact on the natural environment or local resources. In fact the plant's production activity, which involves recycling of carbon dioxide emissions to produce a substitute for fossil fuel, helps to protect the global climate.

CRI's renewable methanol plant was constructed in two phases. The first phase was commissioned in 2012 and the second phase, which tripled the plant's hydrogen and methanol production, was commissioned in 2015. From 2012-2014 the plant operated as an experimental facility. After production capacity was ramped up to 12 metric tons of methanol per day the Planning Agency requested a formal environmental impact assessment, as required by the Environmental Impact Assessment Act no. 106/2000.

The impact assessment was published in draft form in December 2016 and has been publicly available for review. Following thorough investigation and stakeholder comments by local municipalities and agencies, the Agency has concluded that CRI's plant fulfils all applicable criteria and no effluents or material is emitted by the process or left untreated which could potentially harm the environment.

"CRI's mission is to provide innovative technology which benefits and protects the environment. We welcome the Planning Agency's assessment which shows that our CO2-to-methanol process fulfils the strictest legal and regulatory requirements," said Sindri Sindrason, Chief Executive of CRI.

In memory of Professor George Olah, member of CRI's Board of Advisors

Professor George Olah, Nobel laureate and member of CRI's Board of Advisors, passed away at his home in Beverly Hills, California on March 8th 2017 at the age of 89. CRI's first industrial scale CO2-to-methanol production plant in Iceland, which was inaugurated in 2012, was named in honor of Professor Olah. He was awarded the Nobel prize in Chemistry in 1994 for his contribution to carbocation chemistry. (Picture credit: USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Professor Olah was an early promoter of methanol as an alternative fuel and advocated the development of direct CO2-to-methanol synthesis technology. His influential book "Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy" popularized the idea of methanol as an energy carrier and carbon neutral replacement for fossil transport fuels.  Olah argued that methanol synthesized from CO2 and hydrogen could reduce the world's dependence on fossil hydrocarbons and usher in a new era of carbon neutral transportation and chemistry. 

Since 1979 Professor Olah directed the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute at the University of Southern California (USC), where he helped to develop direct methanol fuel cells and catalysts enabling CO2 capture from ambient air. 

Professor Olah was born in Hungary in 1927 and studied chemistry at the Technical University of Budapest. After the Hungarian uprising in 1956, Olah fled to England and continued on to Canada, eventually settling in the United States. After a career in industrial research at Dow Chemical Co. in Michigan he joined the faculty of Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1977 he and members of his research team, including Professor Surya Prakash, Professor Olah's closest collaborator and member of CRI's Board of Advisors, moved to USC in Los Angeles, California.

Professor Olah will be missed by his friends and admirers from around the world. The CRI team owes a debt of gratitude to Professor Olah for his inspiration, encouragement and support and extends condolences to his family and colleagues.

CRI’s power-to-methanol technology at steel manufacturing plant in Sweden

Carbon Recycling International (CRI) and a consortium of European industrial firms and research institutions have been awarded an €11 million grant under the EU’s Horizon2020 programme to implement CRI’s Emissions-to-Liquids technology in a Swedish steel manufacturing plant, demonstrating how residual blast furnace gases can be turned into liquid fuel. The project, entitled FreSMe will be implemented in the Swerea MEFOS facility in Luleå, Sweden.

Steel manufacturing is associated with a number of byproducts, including carbon dioxide (CO2) as well as more energy rich gas which is used for steam and electricity production. Capturing and utilising surplus energy and CO2 in a the conversion process developed by CRI will reduce the carbon footprint of steel production and recycle greenhouse gas emissions in the form of methanol, a liquid fuel currently used in cars and ships.

The low carbon intensity methanol produced from the carbon capture and synthesis plant will be utilised by one of the consortium partners, Swedish ferry operator Stena which operates the world’s first methanol fuelled passenger ferry, the Stena Germanica. Methanol is emerging as a strong alternative to marine fuels derived from oil, as strict regulations on sulphur emissions from ships have been introduced in designated emission control areas within Northern-Europe and North America and will be implemented globally in 2020.

The FreSMe project will leverage infrastructure from the Stepwise research project, at the Swerea MEFOS facility in Luleå, which separates CO2 from blast furnace gas and from the MefCO2 project which demonstrates how CRI’s technology canutilise intermittent renewable electricity sources. A newly built pipeline connecting the SSAB steel plant in Luleå to Swerea MEFOS will also be used to feed gas to the carbon capture and methanol synthesis plant.

In addition to CRI, Swerea MEFOS, SSAB and Stena over half a dozen industrial firms and research institutes from six European countries will participate in the FreSMe consortium. Otherpartners include Tata Steel Netherlands, Kisuma Chemicals (Netherlands), Array Industries (Netherlands) and leading Dutch research institute ECN.

“This project will demonstrate that our Emissions-to-Liquids technology is a cost-effective solution for carbon capture and utilisation in steel manufacturing plants,” says Sindri Sindrason, CEO of CRI. “It further demonstrates the versatility of CRI’s ETL technology, which will enable the large scale replacement of oil distillates such as gasoline and diesel with low carbon intensity fuel from a large variety of energy sources.” 

CRI produces renewable methanol, under the brand name Vulcanol, at its Emissions-to-Liquids production facility in Grindavik, Iceland. CRI technology catalytically converts hydrogen and CO2 into renewable methanol. Methanol, one of the most common chemical feedstocks, is widely used in gasoline blending, for biodiesel production and production of chemical derivatives.



Photo: Torbjörn Tapani

Methanol is the marine fuel of the future

Methanol as a marine fuel of the future was in focus in the conference Making Marine Applications Greener which was held in Reykjavik on October 4.

The goal of the conference was to establish a dialogue between Nordic players involved in relevant maritime projects and those interested in new ones. Low- and zero emission solutions for the maritime sector are becoming an increasingly important topic for governments and authorities in the Nordic countries.

Methanol is a great maritime fuel as it is clean burning and biodegradable. With green methanol, such as produces by CRI‘s Emissions-to-Liquids technology, CO2 emissions can reduced up to 100%.

For Iceland and increasing shipping traffic in the Arctic, these qualities are specifically important as soot speeds up glacier and icebergs melting and potential oil spills could have a devastating effect on fisheries and wildlife in the Arctic Circle. 

Another benefit of methanol is its long history of safe handling and can be implemented with minor modification to current ship designs and fuel infrastructure with low cost relative to other clean fuel conversions.

Cleaner low emission marine fuel is getting increased traction with the fishing industry both as part of the image of sustainable fishing, positive effects on health and spirit of crew and higher value of end product that has a low CO2 footprint. Also, stricter regulations on emissions are anticipated in the near future.

Several projects and initiatives running on methanol as a fuel are in place and were presented at the conference.

For example S-Korean and Japanese shipyards are building 9 large methanol tankers, 6 of which will be delivered to Methanex in 2016. These 50.000 ton ships will operate on MAN ME-LGI flex-fuel engines which can run on methanol, bunker fuel, marine diesel or gasoline. In addition, Stena Line Sweden has converted a 1,300 passenger ferry with a flex-fuel engine from Wärtsilä. The main engine can burn methanol and marine diesel.

At the conference, awards for the Sustainable Ship Competition were announced and for both proposals, Vulcanol played a key role. 

First prize was awarded to Rensea 3G for a proposal of a multipurpose sustainable ship with wide sails that capture both wind and solar power - and a spare engine powered by environmentally friendly energy sources, such as methanol.

Runner up was a proposal of a 48 meter long liner specially designed to optimize energy efficiency and emissions from all of the ships operations. The ship will have 1,200 kW electric propulsion motor, 800 kWh batteries and 3,400 kW main engines methanol fueled. The project consortium consists of Hafið, Klappir, Skipasýn, Viðskiptahúsið and Rensea.