Carbon emissions from conventional chemical production are a significant contributor to climate change. Among these chemicals, methanol is an important base chemical used in various applications and is commonly derived from syngas. The current production of syngas is highly heat-intensive. Typically, this heat is generated by burning fossil fuels, accounting for approximately 10% of the sector's CO2 emissions. Reducing these emissions is crucial for achieving climate goals and advancing the green transition.
Comparison between heating methods. ©eqator.eu
The MCI research team around Prof. Dr. Lukas Möltner and Verena Schallhart, MSc, is part of the Horizon Europe-funded ēQATOR project. This project brings together a consortium of 15 European industrial and research partners, coordinated by the Norwegian organization SINTEF. ēQATOR's primary objective is to develop a scalable catalytic reactor technology that enhances the efficiency of converting biogas into syngas. The key innovation lies in the creation of catalysts that are electrically heated, using either resistive or microwave heating. The research conducted at MCI together with partners such as KIB (Keramik Innovation Berthold) focuses on developing materials and reactor technologies for resistive heating. By directly heating the catalyst rather than the process gas, the reactors can be significantly reduced in size, and energy requirements are lowered. Furthermore, utilizing electricity generated from renewable sources, instead of fossil fuels, results in a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions. The implementation of ēQATOR technology is projected to save 60-80% of CO2 emissions compared to current processes.
The project started on June 1, 2022, and continues until November 30, 2025. Significant progress has already been made, as showcased at the 4th project partner meeting in Lyon from October 10 to 11, 2023. Several catalysts have been tested, lab-scale reactors are operational, and a pilot-scale plant is undergoing detail engineering. Different process schemes have been developed and tested through simulation. Technical advancements are complemented by a comprehensive sustainability assessment, encompassing techno-economic feasibility, environmental impact, and society and rural development considerations.
ēQATOR Meeting in Lyon on 10-11/10/2023. ©eqator.eu
Consortium partners. ©eqator.eu
From reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions to paving the way for sustainable chemical processes, the ēQATOR technology has the potential to disruptively transform electrically-heated reactor technology in the chemical industry.
Original press release by Eva Kopf: https://idw-online.de/en/news815665