Developing Renewable Methanol
Investment in e-methanol
In 2013, Methanex made a pioneering investment in green e-methanol technology developer Carbon Recycling International (CRI) based in Iceland. The CRI demonstration plant was used to prove their emissions-to-liquids (ETL) technology, recycling CO₂ from a nearby geothermal power plant and using renewable energy to produce renewable methanol. In 2022, CRI reached a milestone with the startup of the world’s largest CO₂-to-methanol plant in Anyang, China based on CRI’s ETL technology. Methanex increased its support for CRI in 2022, with an increase in $1 million in equity, converted from a portion of a mezzanine loan, and an extension of the remaining mezzanine loan.
Learn more about CRI.
Using renewable natural gas or biomass in a conventional methanol process results in a form of green methanol called bio-methanol. We have received International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) for bio-methanol production at our Geismar site in the U.S. This certification enables sales to European fuel customers under the Renewable Energy Directive II (RED II), which sets targets for energy from renewable sources, as well as chemical customers globally to produce low-carbon products like Bio-POM.
While renewable natural gas costs significantly more than conventional natural gas feedstock, making bio-methanol more expensive to produce, this process requires no incremental improvements or capital investments to our manufacturing facilities.
Our Geismar plant remains positioned to respond to customer demand and produce bio-methanol using renewable natural gas.
Alternative Feedstocks, Renewable Energy and New Technologies
Alternative feedstocks and renewable energy can provide pathways to produce lower-carbon or carbon-neutral methanol on a life-cycle basis. Methanex is exploring pathways to gradually decarbonize our existing plants, including opportunities to use alternative fuels or renewable electricity at our facilities.
Green Hydrogen Feasibility Study
In 2023, we will conduct a technical and economic feasibility study of using green hydrogen at existing plants to produce methanol with a lower carbon intensity. If the concept proves viable, lower-carbon methanol could be produced alongside conventional methanol at some of our sites, to match the growing market needs for low-carbon methanol. In the future, biogenic sources of CO₂ could also be incorporated into the process which, if used in conjunction with green hydrogen, could produce green methanol.
Advancing Methanol as a Marine and Transportation Fuel
Methanex has been involved in a number of other initiatives and pilot projects to support the commercialization of methanol across the marine and transportation sector.
Methanex is a partner in FASTWATER, a consortium of 14 organizations advancing the use of methanol in waterborne transportation. The consortium recently launched a pilot boat demonstration in Sweden and a harbour tug conversion and demonstration (the Methatug) in Belgium. Methanex was also chosen as the methanol supplier for the Methatug through an independent procurement process.
Methanex partnered with Stena, Wartsila and others on the conversion of the Stena Germanica ferry to operate on methanol. The Stena Germanica, one of the world’s largest ferries, has been operating in the Baltic Sea on methanol fuel since 2015, powered by four Wartsila 4-stroke methanol-compatible engines.
Supporting the commercialization of methanol as a marine and vehicle fuel in China
In 2021, Methanex was invited to participate on a review panel to help develop safety guidelines in China for ships using methanol or ethanol fuels. The 2022 publication of these safety guidelines was a critical step towards the commercialization of methanol as a marine fuel in China. We have also partnered with the China Waterborne Transportation Research Institute to support an evaluation of the technical and operational requirements for the use of methanol as a marine fuel.
In 2019, eight ministries in China jointly published a document endorsing the nationwide development and introduction of methanol vehicles. Guidelines to Promote Methanol Vehicles in Some Parts of China promote the development of M100 (100% methanol) vehicles, M100 filling stations, and relevant standards. As the first document of its kind published by the government in China, this endorsement is enabling the growth of M100 vehicles in China.
Methanex has been working with vehicle manufacturer Geely and other partners in China to support the commercialization of M100 (100% methanol) automobiles and heavy-duty trucks in China. We are actively involved in the development of relative standards, pilot projects, and sharing of Responsible Care practices.
Collaborating towards wider adoption in Trinidad
Methanex has partnered with the National Energy Corporation in Trinidad and Tobago on a feasibility study and demonstration project of methanol as reduced-emissions marine and vehicle fuel for the region, and Waterfront Shipping recently signed a one-year time-charter agreement for one of its dual-fuelled vessels with Trafigura, one of the world’s largest physical commodity trading groups, another example of Waterfront Shipping’s leadership in supporting the growing demand for methanol as a marine fuel.
Studying Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS)
Methanex is progressing its feasibility study for carbon capture and storage (CCS) at our Geismar site, which has available carbon transportation and storage infrastructure. The feasibility study includes selecting the appropriate technology, defining the plant size and utilities required, and assessing the demand and required product premium.