BASF Develops Carbon-neutral Methanol Process

30.05.2019 -

BASF has developed a process that produces methanol without releasing any carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The company has applied to patent the technology, which has been tested at pilot scale. The German group said if it can successfully implement the process at industrial scale, the entire production route from synthesis gas (syngas) to pure methanol will no longer release CO2.

The work has been carried out under the auspices of BASF’s Carbon Management Program, which the company announced in January 2019 would house all its emission-reduction technology projects. According to BASF, the production processes of the most important basic chemicals are responsible for about 70% of the chemical industry’s greenhouse gas emissions.

In existing processes, methanol is typically made from syngas primarily obtained from natural gas via steam and autothermal reforming. In BASF’s new process, the syngas is generated by the partial oxidation of natural gas, which does not emit any CO2 – subsequent process steps such as methanol synthesis and distillation can be performed virtually unchanged.

“We are optimistic that our climate-friendly approach will better adapt methanol synthesis to the requirements of the 21st century,” said project manager Maximilian Vicari from BASF’s Intermediates division. Vicari expects that it will be around 10 years before the new process is carried out in an industrial-scale plant.

Methanol is used in the production of a variety of chemicals, such as formaldehyde, acetic acid, methylamines, methyl tert-butyl ether, methyl methacrylate, polyalcohols and silicones. It can also be used to make fuels such as dimethyl ether and biodiesel, or used in place of or blended with conventional diesel and gasoline.

In separate news, BASF Venture Capital is investing an undisclosed sum in the Longwater Advanced Materials Fund. The private equity fund is managed by Longwater Investment, a capital investor in advanced materials and chemistry-related technologies in China. Markus Solibieda, managing director of BASF Venture Capital, said the investment underlines BASF’s commitment to further expanding its innovation capabilities in China.