Renewable Methanol

Renewable methanol (or biomethanol) is perhaps the oldest form of methanol production.  Sometimes refered to as wood alcohol, methanol was originally created by the Egyptians for the embalming process through the destructive pyrolysis of timber and has since evolved to provide a number of essential materials and chemicals to society. 

Though much of today's methanol comes from the methane in natural gas, one of the most remarkable aspects of methanol is the diversity of feedstocks that can be used in its production. Though often methanol comes largely as a byproduct of the methane in natural gas, a great and growing amount of methanol is being made from renewable and sustainable resources.

As the most basic alcohol, methanol has the distinct advantage of 'polygeneration' - whereby methanol can be made from any resource that can be converted first into synthesis gas. Through gasification, synthesis gas can be produced from anything that is or ever was a plant.  This includes biomass, agricultural and timber waste, solid municipal waste, landfill gas, industrial waste and pollution and a number of other feedstocks.

Below you will find factsheets on two of the Methanol Institute’s member companies that are actively engaged in producing renewable methanol. In Iceland, Carbon Recycling International utilizes CO2 flue gas and electricity from a geothermal power plant to make renewable methanol for vehicles and trucks on the island nation. In the Netherlands, BioMCN converts crude glycerin—a residue from processing vegetables and animal fats—into advanced second generation bio-methanol.  

Carbon Recycling International  

BioMCN and Bio-Methanol

At the inaugural EU Methanol Forum, presentations were given on renewable methanol.  Not only do these technologies have the potential to address societal and environmental challenges, they also offer an opportunity to improve energy security, create jobs and support the reindustrialisation of Europe. Below are some of the presentations given on renewable methanol:

CO2-to-Methanol in Iceland - Benedikt Stefansson, Director of Business Development, Carbon Recyling International (CRI)

Power to Methanol in German & European Contect - Christian Schweitzer, Manging Director, bse Engineering Leipzig GmbH

Syngas from Renewables: Production of Green Methanol - Jim Abbott, Strategic R&D Engineer, Process Technologies, Johnson Matthey Plc

Biomass-to-Methanol - Bo Gleerup, CEO and Co-Founder, Nordic Green

Waste-to-Methanol: a commerciality with Enerkem - Marie-Helene Labrie, Senior VP, Government Affairs and Communications, Enerkem

DME: Local Solution for Global Problems - Dr. Rebecca Boudreaux, President, Oberon Fuels