Carbon Recycling International (CRI) celebrated the expansion of the company's renewable methanol plant in Svartsengi, Iceland, in a ceremony on Thursday April 16, with a large number domestic and foreign guests. Speakers at the event included Mr. Illugi Gunnarsson, Minister of Education and Culture, Mr. Robert Cushman Barber US Ambassador to Iceland and Mr. Wolfgang Benesch, Head of Energy Technologies, from the German power company Steag.
Work on the plant expansion has been ongoing since June of 2014, by CRI staff as well as local and foreign contractors. The production capacity of the plant has been increased by 200% to 4,000 tons of renewable methanol per year.
CRI's renewable methanol plant is the first of its kind. Renewable methanol is a liquid fuel, produced from electricity by combining hydrogen and carbon dioxide emission. Use of renewable methanol from the plant reduces aggregate CO2 emissions by the same amount as a fleet of 2200 electric vehicles, running on renewable power. This number of cars would correspond to a seven-fold increase in the existing fleet of electric vehicles in Iceland.
CRI's product is sold domestically and in several European markets under the brand name Vulcanol and used as a gasoline component or feedstock for biodiesel production. Methanol is also a raw material for a variety of components and substitutes for petrol and diesel. According to Argus JJ & A about 32 billion liters of methanol were used last year as fuel, mostly in Europe and Asia.
CRI's technology is attracting attention from around the world, in particular in Europe. CRI recently partnered with companies and researchers from Germany, Spain and Belgium to build a methanol plant using the same process that has been implemented in the company's industrial plant in Iceland. The new plant will reduce emissions from Steag's coal-fired power plant in Lünen, Germany. The project received a grant from the Horizon 2020 EU research program.
European countries and the US have mandated an increase in the use of of renewable fuels, in order to reduce oil dependency, GHG emissions and global climate change. Use of methanol as a marine fuel is also growing, as it eliminates pollution from sulfur and nitrogen compounds which are toxic to the ocean environment.