Japanese consortium to study CCU

Article by Amanda Jasi

A CONSORTIUM of three Japanese companies is to jointly research effective recycling of carbon dioxide (CO2) for methanol production, at a refinery in Tomakomai City, Hokkaido, Japan where CO2 is already being captured and stored by an existing demonstration plant.

The companies – Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering (MHIE), and Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company (MGCC) – were selected to do the research by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation. The public management organisation promotes research and development, as well as deployment of industrial, energy, and environmental technologies.

Methanol can be used as a fuel and is a promising energy carrier. Additionally, it is a raw material is a wide range of industries. Primarily, methanol is converted to formaldehyde, which is used in many areas, especially polymers.

To produce methanol, CO2 will be combined with hydrogen (H2) that is obtained either as a byproduct from refineries, or from water electrolysis in the existing carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility.

The carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) and CCS plants will be integrated. This will enable CO2 recovery functions to be shared and enhance the interoperability of both facilities. 

The scope of the research includes assessing the performance of proposed facilities with a relevant technology survey, basic engineering to optimise the plant configuration, and assessing the economic feasibility and future outlook. The consortium will conduct a survey project based on the assumption of a 20 t/d methanol synthesis plant being installed adjacent to the existing CCS facility.

Chemical company MGCC will provide its supply expertise related to methanol production and synthesis catalysts. In cooperation with MHIE, MGCC will additionally provide methanol production technology. MHIE, the engineering company of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, will leverage its experience in engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) of large-scale methanol plants.

Consortium leader MHPS will deploy its EPC experience from a variety of businesses. MHPS is a joint venture between Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Hitachi.

The research is to run until February 2021. According to the consortium, the insight gained could be applied to various CO2 emitters in future.

The consortium’s work contributes to establishing a carbon-free society and helps to drive economic development, whilst also ensuring environmental conservation.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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