World's Largest CO2 Methanol plant
The George Olah Renewable Methanol Plant in Svartsengi, near Grindavik, Iceland was commissioned in 2011, following years of development which included the construction of a lab-scale pilot, catalyst testing, chemical syntheses conditions studies and fundraising. It is named after chemistry Nobel laureate George Olah, who wrote the influential book “Beyond Oil and Gas: The Methanol Economy” which popularised the idea methanol as an energy carrier and a transport fuel.
As the first industrial scale production facility utilizing CO2 waste gas as a feedstock for methanol production, the plant’s commissioning marked a significant milestone in the field of carbon capture and utilisation. In 2015, the technology’s inherent scalability was put to the test when the plant’s production capacity was scaled from 1300 to its current level of 4000 metric tons per year which translates into a CO2 recycling capacity of 5500 tons.
In the Geroge Olah Renewable Methanol Plant, CRI’s Emissions-to-Liquids process is used to react CO2, from an integrated capture system, with hydrogen (H2), generated from water electrolysis using renewable power, producing a mixture of water and methanol which is further distilled to produce pure methanol. The plant is highly modular, which both cuts engineering costs and time for erection and commissioning and lowers complexity. Individual plant modules are H2 production, CO2 purification, gas compression, methanol synthesis and product purification. The plant is closely tied into HS Orka’s Svartsengi geothermal power plant, which provides electricity, the raw geothermal off-gases which are used to derive CO2 feedstock, some steam and water.
An independent audit annually performed by SHS Germany using a protocol established by ISCC certifies that the plant production releases 90% less carbon dioxide than the use of a comparable amount of energy from fossil fuels.
Through the operation of the plant, Carbon Recycling International has gained unique experience and know-how. This experience has allowed the company to create standard modular plant designs with a larger production capacity, up-scaling solution and optimize the production process to be applicable to the needs of diverse industries. The plant is an industrial demonstrator, providing proof of concept, proof of technology and proof of scalability. For CRI it provides a platform for continuing performance validation, development of operating procedures and operator training, validating process improvements and optimize the design and construction of larger scale plants with capacity starting at 100,000 t/yr.