Methanol & Derivatives

Methanol to olefins, fuel blending

Methanol is one of the most important components of the global economy, with annual demand of nearly 90 mtpa and extremely versatile uses. Almost half of the global methanol capacities are based on the natural gas route, especially in geographies such as the Middle East, US Gulf Coast, parts of Central and South America, i.e. regions that are blessed with natural gas reserves.

However, for other regions of the world, which do not have natural gas reserves, gasification of coal (especially in China and India), petroleum residues like petcoke, plastics, and biomass can provide a cost-competitive method for producing methanol. Methanol produced through the gasification route can act as the basic building block of a methanol-based economy consisting of: downstream chemicals (viz. acetic acid, MEG, formaldehyde); blending of clean transportation fuels (M15, DME10 & DME20); and producing olefins (ethylene, propylene) through the Methanol to Olefins or MTO route. When combined with cost-effective pre-combustion carbon capture, the clean methanol produced through gasification has a similar cost structure with methanol produced from natural gas, when the cost of CO2 emissions is taken into account. Such an ecosystem can result in significant import substitution of methanol and contribute significantly to energy security through clean fuels and reduce dependency on imported crude oil & derivatives and other downstream products.

However, given the volatility of methanol demand and prices, it is critical for gasification based methanol projects to take a business-driven approach that integrates system design, poly-product portfolio design & hedging and cost-effective carbon capture and disposition. Dastur Energy has helped some of the largest refiners in the Middle East and India convert waste petcoke residues to a methanol-based product portfolio. The projects envisioned by us for our clients are scalable, flexible, environmentally sustainable and economically viable and are based on the following tenets:

  • Feedstock sourcing, pre-treating and blending models.

  • Selection & design of the appropriate gasification technology depending on the feedstock characteristics (chemical composition, ash content & physico-chemical properties) and scale of operations.

  • Utilizing the energy-rich syngas for the production of value-added products like power, DRI and chemicals such as methanol and derivates.

  • Designing the right combination of reactors for ‘syngas to methanol’ or ‘methanol to olefins’ conversion by optimizing the reactor shell temperature, pressure drops, vessel sizes, gas velocities, catalyst life and overall heat integration.

  • Appropriate recycling, separation and distillation schemes to minimize methanol loss.

Dastur Energy is also advising NITI Aayog, the apex policy think tank of the Government of India, on a “Gasification & CCUS-based methanol economy” for India. The goal is to enable methanol production at competitive costs of US$180-200/tonne, by utilizing indigenous high-ash coal and refinery residues such as petcoke, which can have a transformative effect on downstream applications, reduction of import bill and the concomitant positive environmental effect.

Technology Pillars