Methanol fuel production technology deal

Foster Wheeler and Starchem Technologies have formed a partnership to develop technology that produces methanol for use as a liquid fuel for power generation.

Based on the reforming of natural gas, the process uses air extracted from a gas turbine and enriched in membranes. This eliminates the need for an air separation unit normally required to supply oxygen for the process.

A series of reactors are arranged in a cascade in lieu of the conventional methanol synthesis loop. The technology enables methanol to be delivered more economically than liquefied natural gas (LNG), according to Foster Wheeler.

Methanol contains no sulphur or nitrogenous materials and produces power with low emissions compared to those of a natural gas-fired, combined-cycle unit.

Foster Wheeler says the fuel, which can be used by power generation companies without any substantial modification to their present sites, is ready for commercial application and will be licensed under the Starchem name.

The agreement will allow Foster Wheeler to offer standardized onshore and offshore versions of Starchem production plants that will deliver methanol to power markets throughout the world as an economically priced fuel.

Foster Wheeler believes that the Starchem methanol process will meet clean power generation needs for the future, especially in regions of the world where sources of low-cost energy are not available.

There is an abundance of stranded natural gas worldwide, both offshore and onshore, and this technology is designed to convert it into a useable power generation fuel.

Starchem’s power methanol product can be burned in combined-cycle power stations using commercially proven combustion turbines with minor adaptations to accommodate the fuel change from natural gas or petroleum fuels.

Foster Wheeler claims methanol can be handled conventionally at the user’s site without capital investment in special purpose tankers or unloading facilities required by other fuel systems.

In addition to the application as a power station fuel, several emerging markets for low-cost methanol are expected to develop in the future, particularly with fuel cell-based vehicles.

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