Pioneering sustainable methanol project

Total Fina grounds The Port pf Antwerp wants to make onsite chemical operations more sustainable. Credit: Port of Antwerp
Industry Database

The Port of Antwerp is taking the next step in the transition to alternative energy sources and becoming a carbon-neutral port by leading a new pilot project which aims to produce 4,000-8,000t of sustainable methanol per year.

Methanol is essential for the day-to-day operation of the port and is the starting point for many chemical processes used daily by the industrial players in the port. 300,000t of methanol is used by the port annually for chemical processes and fuel production: everything from insulation panels to fuel additives.

"In practical terms we will produce methanol from waste CO2 and sustainably generated hydrogen," explained Didier Van Osselaer, project manager at Port of Antwerp. "The waste CO2 will be collected by a new process called Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU) in which at least some of the CO2 emissions are recovered.

“This CO2 is then combined with hydrogen generated on a sustainable basis using green energy in a new electrolysis plant. These two processes – CCU and electrolysis – together form the perfect basis for producing sustainable methanol."

Significant CO2 reduction

The Port of Antwerp estimates that the project will enable it to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 1t per tonne of methanol generated. Methanol can also be used in the future as a sustainable fuel in its own right and used for diverse purposes including tug boats or ordinary road traffic. The port aims to introduce “a first methanol-powered tug in the near future”.

Project support includes ENGIE, which will contribute its knowledge of the electricity market; Oiltanking, which will give advice on the logistical aspects of methanol production and storage; and Indaver, which will offer expertise on collection of CO2.

Helm-Proman is involved with a view to finding markets for the methanol that is produced; and VMH will be responsible for at least part of the financing.

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