Sustainable fuel has moved a big step closer with a new demonstration plant that can convert biogas into the liquid fuel methanol.
Currently, biogas is either incinerated to provide electricity and heat—or upgraded into methane (natural gas, ed.).
“Methanol has a higher value compared to both current uses of the biogas,” stresses the head of the project, Associate Professor Philip L. Fosbøl, DTU Chemical Engineering. He adds that converting biogas into methanol has the potential to cover 50 per cent of Denmark’s transport energy needs. The assessment comes from a report on methanol as a motor fuel prepared by the Danish Technological Institute.
The project called Bio-ReFuel, which is funded by the Energy Technological Development and Demonstration Programme (EUDP), is divided into two phases. The first phase consisted of two and a half years of laboratory scale testing in cooperation with the companies Elplatek, Unicat Catalyst Technologies, and Lemvig Biogas. Here, researchers managed to produce high-efficiency methanol. The project has therefore entered its second phase where the partners—which at this stage also includes the company Union Engineering—are building a demonstration facility.
The plant will have the capacity to process 240 m3 of biogas daily, corresponding to the production of a small biogas plant. The plant is built in an ISO-sized container to facilitate transport. At the same time, the standardized size means that you can quickly upscale, allowing more Danish biogas plants to acquire a similar plant.
“The new plant will have two different settings—you can choose to run the process with or without the addition of hydrogen. If you choose to add hydrogen, you’ll get a higher yield of methanol,” explains Philip L. Fosbøl.