Researchers Optimise Green Methanol Production to Reduce Transport Carbon Emissions

For the last year, ten European and Japanese research expert organisations have been working together on the LAURELIN project to develop innovative processes to convert CO2 in renewable methanol.

Responsible for more than 25% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions, the transport sector urgently needs new decarbonised alternative renewable fuels. That is why the LAURELIN project, funded by the European Union and the Japan Science and Technology Agency, works on developing innovative solutions to improve green methanol production from CO2 hydrogenation in terms of energy efficiency and production cost.

Renewable methanol has an impressive potential to help decarbonising the transport sector. It can cut CO2 emissions by up to 95%, reduce NOx emissions by up to 80%, and completely eliminate SOx and particulate matter emissionsIt is a promising technology that can play an important role in making Europe the first climate-neutral continent” explained Adolfo Benedito Borrás, LAURELIN Technical Coordinator and Head of the Materials Research Department at AIMPLAS.

But hydrogenation of CO2 into methanol has strong limitations related to the process, the energy consumption and production costs. CO2 is generally unreactive and hydrogenation is impossible without the use of a catalyst, a substance added to accelerate the chemical reaction of H2 with CO2. LAURELIN’s team therefore is developing new catalyst systems perfectly adapted to advanced reactor technologies to reduce energy consumption of the methanol synthesis from CO2, and therefore its cost.

The team is working on three promising technologies: microwave, non-thermal plasma induction and magnetic induction. They are finalising the construction of the three corresponding reactors for CO2 conversion to methanol. The partners will continue to fine-tune these novel reactors in the coming weeks, for example by making them operable at higher pressure.

On this basis, the project will test more than 100 samples of new catalyst materials and compare them with conventional thermal hydrogenation. This will help optimising the selectivity and yield of the methanol production.

Reducing the e-methanol production costs would lead to an increase in the opportunities to use it as fuel. This would directly benefits society thanks to the reduction in GHG emissions and costs, creating further jobs and wealth,“ explained Professor Teruoki Tago from the Department of Chemical Science and Engineering at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

Involving universities, research organisations and SMEs from Belgium, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom, LAURELIN is a 48-month project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). 

LAURELIN project

Video Credit: LAURELIN

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