Nouryon and Gasunie to supply ‘green’ hydrogen for methanol production

  • Mar 21, 2019
  • The Chemical Engineer

NOURYON and Gasunie have agreed to supply ‘green’ hydrogen to BioMCN for renewable methanol production. The companies say that this marks a step in the sustainability of processes in the industry.

Currently, in a partnership formed last year, Nouryon and Gasunie are investigating “possible large-scale conversion of sustainable electricity – fuelled by offshore wind – into green hydrogen via electrolysis of water”, said a Nouryon spokesperson. Electrolysis of water is the decomposition of water into oxygen and hydrogen using electricity.

Under the new agreement Nouryon and Gasunie would provide methanol producer BioMCN with green hydrogen produced by the potential water electrolysis unit. BioMCN would then use the hydrogen to produce methanol, a key chemical feedstock which can also be processed into synthetic fuels.

“In our methanol reactor unit, we process hydrogen and CO2 to renewable methanol and water, under the same conditions as when syngas is used to produce methanol” said Julius van Dongen, Public Affairs Officer at BioMCN.

Synthetic gas, or syngas, is a mixture comprised of carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), and hydrogen (H2). It can be produced via steam reforming of natural gas. Typically, methanol is produced from syngas using a low-pressure catalytic reaction.

“By using H2 and CO2, we are able to skip the high-energy consuming steam reforming process to produce syngas from natural gas. This results in substantial CO2-reductions in two ways, as natural gas is replaced as feedstock and avoided as fuel gas for steam reforming.”

Compared to fossil-fuel based methods, production of methanol by BioMCN’s method is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 27,000 t/y.

Electrolysis would be carried out at a 20 MW electrolysis unit in Delfzijl, the Netherlands. If built the unit would be the largest in Europe and would represent an important step in the scaling up of electrolysis technology. It would produce 3,000 t/y of hydrogen. A final investment decision on the unit is expected later this year.

Knut Schwalenberg, Managing Director Industrial Chemicals at Nouryon, said: “Green hydrogen is a realistic alternative for fossil-based raw materials and enables new forms of green chemistry. This agreement will help to support long-term growth in that market.”

Gerard van Pijkeren, Managing Director at Gasunie New Energy said: “Gas infrastructure plays a connecting and facilitating role in the energy transition. We will be transporting different energy carriers, such as hydrogen and green gas, increasingly through our pipelines in the future. As independent network operator we can connect hydrogen from different suppliers for transportation to the major industrial clusters in the Netherlands. This network may have a capacity of 10 GW or more by 2030.”

According to Søren Jacobsen, Managing Director at BioMCN, this new partnership is “an important step towards a circular economy”.

Jacobson added: “Thanks to the supply of green hydrogen, we can replace natural gas as a feedstock and recycle carbon emissions to produce new raw materials and fuels, effectively turning CO2 emissions into carbon savings and helping the Netherlands meet its carbon reduction goals.”