Climate Smart Process Design for Current and Future Methanol Production
Narine, K., Mahabir, J., Koylass, N., Samaroo, N., Singh-Gryzbon, S., Baboolal, A., Guo, M., Ward, K.
Journal of CO2 Utilization
As the global methanol industry faces greater financial constraints imposed by climate change mitigation, climate smart process design aligned to low carbon operations takes precedence. Here we present multiple decision criteria facilitated by techno-economic and environmental assessments, to better inform decision-making on current and future climate smart methanol production utilizing; steam methane reforming (SMR), auto-thermal reforming (ATR), methane pyrolysis (pyrolysis) and electrolysis. Our results highlight energy inefficiencies aligned to SMR cases affiliated with high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Despite its unsustainable operations, SMR dominates amongst methanol technologies with lower annualized costs, illustrating the need for viable transition to low carbon operations within current methanol production. Considering future technologies, both pyrolysis and electrolysis offer sustainable solutions, however, pyrolysis presents noticeable profitability over solar driven electrolysis. Incorporation of decarbonization strategies through resource circular CO2 utilization and storage, with subsequent environmental penalties, reveals ATR and pyrolysis as applicable climate smart technologies within the current methanol market value chain. These results were further supported considering sensitivity analyses and contextual implications associated with domestic and global socio-economic, political and legislative frameworks, confirming ATR and pyrolysis as the premiere choices for low carbon operations. Overall, these findings underpin viable climate smart process design informing and promoting greater sustainable operations within unsustainable economies.