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Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “methanol”

Maersk Methanol-Fueled Container Ship by 2023

7 years earlier than previously planned, Danish shipping company Maersk will have the world’s first carbon-neutral ship in operation, fueled by methanol.

Ship builder: Hyundai
Propulsion system: MAN Energy Solutions
Size of ship: 172 m
Cargo ship: 2100 TEU
Energy source methanol: solar
Renewable methanol producer: European Energy
Location of pv-power generation: Southern Jutland, Denmark
Location of power-to-methanol facility: yet to be decided
Annual e-methanol volume: 10,000 tonnes
Area of shipping operation: Baltic

[maersk.com] – Maersk signs shipbuilding contract for world’s first container vessel fueled by carbon neutral methanol
[maersk.com] – Maersk secures green e-methanol for the world’s first container vessel operating on carbon neutral fuel
[europeanenergy.com] – Corporate site

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Methanol Instead of Hydrogen?

German language video

The energy transition has no lack of alternatives to choose from. Methanol is such a (under-exposed) possibility, that is currently living in the shadow of pure hydrogen. Methanol, a fluid under ambient conditions, has as a great advantage that it is easy to maintain and store. Methanol can be burned in a fuel cell, comparable to hydrogen. Methanol, like hydrogen, can be produced in a “green” fashion, with electrolysis. A methanol fuel cell does have CO2-emissions, but these would be evened out by atmospheric CO2-absorption during green production.

In transportation, methanol offers a large range, think 800 km. Existing petrol stations could be easily retrofitted, and the necessity for hundreds of thousands of charging stations could be eliminated. “Charging times” are in the minutes range.

Important disadvantages do exist. Methanol is toxic, 10 ml suffice for a serious intoxication, 100 ml are deadly. Other problems exist in the realm of rapid deterioration of the catalyst, as well as less than stellar efficiencies.

But just like with batteries, a big potential for problem-solving exists due to further research & development. Who will win eventually can’t be decided yet.

[deepresource] – Our methanol posts
[heise.de] – Methanol statt Wasserstoff (2006)

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Methanol Economy Update

[f.u-tokyo.ac.jp] – Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy (27 slides)
[osti.gov] – The Methanol Economy Project (DOE)
[deepresource] – The Methanol Economy With George Olah
[amazon.com] – Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy

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The Methanol Economy With George Olah

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From Wikipedia: In the 1990s Nobel prize winner George A. Olah started to advocate the methanol economy and in 2006 he and two co-authors (G. K. Surya Prakash and Alain Goeppert) published a book around this theme. In these publications, they summarize the state of our fossil fuel and alternative energy sources, their availability and limitations before suggesting a new approach in the so-called methanol economy.

The basic idea behind the methanol economy is to use methanol (CH3OH) as a universal energy storage medium, not unlike hydrogen in the hydrogen economy of former fame. Interestingly 1 m3 of methanol contains more than twice the amount of hydrogen than 1 m3 liquified H2. It could be used as a fuel for transportation as well as the input material for fuel cells. Methanol is liquid so it can be transported and stored easily and is in fact already used on a a large scale (37 million tons per year). Methanol can be efficiently produced from natural gas, coal, oil shale or tar sands but also from biomass and agricultural waste. But potentially the most promissing application would be the recycling of CO2, even from the atmosphere itself. As always there are disadvantages as well.

[amazon.com] – Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy, G. Olah
[wikipedia.org] – Methanol Economy
[wikipedia.org] – George Olah
[desertec-uk.org.uk] – Essay: Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy, George A. Olah

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