Paul Wuebben CRI’s Senior Director for Fuel Applications receives lifetime achievement award

Paul Wuebben, Senior Director for Fuel Applications at Carbon Recycling International (CRI), is the first recipient of the George A. Olah Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented by Professor Olah’s long-time collaborator, Professor Suryah Prakash  to Mr. Wuebben during the Washington Methanol Policy Forum 2017, held at the National Press Club in Washington DC on June 13.

At CRI, Mr. Wuebben has represented the company at numerous forums and participates in development of the company's commercialisation strategy for renewable methanol. He also serves on the Methanol Institute’s fuel blending committee and participates in other activities related to the standardisation and implementation of methanol blending and use. In 2016 Mr. Wuebben was in charge of organising CRI’s first Global Symposium on Advancing Methanol Engines for Sustainable Transport, held in Reykjavik. 

“We are proud to have Paul Wuebben as a part of the CRI team and congratulate him on this well deserved lifetime achievement award. In his previous role in government, Paul confronted a large share of the issues involved in promoting methanol as a fuel and energy carrier. Based on this unique experience, Paul has brought in a valuable perspective for our activities in commercialising CRI’s ETL technology and methanol as a sustainable transport fuel,” said Sindri Sindrason, Chief Executive of CRI.

Prior to joining CRI, Mr. Wuebben served as the first Clean Fuels Officer for the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) in California, responsible for technology development and commercialisation of alternative transport fuels.  He helped organise the largest fleet trial of commercial methanol vehicles in the world, which at its peak involved close to 20.000 privately owned flex-fuel vehicles and distribution of methanol fuel at gas stations throughout Southern California.  He managed the nation's first alternative fuel vehicle R&D program, and served as the Clean Fuel Advisor to the Chairman of the California Air Resources Board and the Clean Energy Advisor to the Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency.  He also served as the Chairman of the multi-agency California Electric Vehicle Task Force in 1990.  

His interest in developing methanol as an alternative fuel and renewable energy carrier eventually earned him the nickname “Mr. Methanol” among his peers. 

Mr. Wuebben received a Master of City Planning degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a B.A. degree Magna Cum Laude, History/Urban Studies from UCLA. He also completed course work at the Harvard School of Public Health as an EPA Fellow. He is the author and co-author of numerous papers and presentations on the use of methanol, as well as other issues related to alternative renewable transport fuels and electric mobility.

The Washington Methanol Policy Forum 2017 brought together industry leaders, energy policy experts, congressional and executive branch officials, academics and the media to share information about methanol's global penetration of the transportation fuel market and its implications for the U.S. economy. This is the fourth such forum organised in the US and Europe by the Methanol Institute, a trade organisation representing the global methanol industry. 

Professor George Olah, 1994 Nobel laureate and member of CRI's Board of Advisors, passed away in March 2017 at the age of 89. 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.  CRI's first industrial scale CO2-to-methanol production plant in Iceland, which was inaugurated in 2012, was named in honor of Professor Olah.   

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.