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Practical Experience With a Mobile Methanol Synthesis Device

[+] Author Affiliations
Eric R. Morgan, Tom Acker

Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ

Paper No. ES2014-6747, pp. V002T04A019; 11 pages
  • ASME 2014 8th International Conference on Energy Sustainability collocated with the ASME 2014 12th International Conference on Fuel Cell Science, Engineering and Technology
  • Volume 2: Economic, Environmental, and Policy Aspects of Alternate Energy; Fuels and Infrastructure, Biofuels and Energy Storage; High Performance Buildings; Solar Buildings, Including Solar Climate Control/Heating/Cooling; Sustainable Cities and Communities, Including Transportation; Thermofluid Analysis of Energy Systems, Including Exergy and Thermoeconomics
  • Boston, Massachusetts, USA, June 30–July 2, 2014
  • Conference Sponsors: Advanced Energy Systems Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4587-5
  • Copyright © 2014 by ASME


Northern Arizona University has developed a methanol synthesis unit that directly converts carbon dioxide and hydrogen into methanol and water. The methanol synthesis unit consists of: a high pressure side that includes a compressor, a reactor, and a throttling valve; and a low pressure side that includes a knockout drum, and a mixer where fresh gas enters the system. Methanol and water are produced at high pressure in the reactor and then exit the system under low pressure and temperature in the knockout drum. The remaining, unreacted recycle gas that leaves the knockout drum is mixed with fresh synthesis gas before being sent back through the synthesis loop. The unit operates entirely on electricity and includes a high-pressure electrolyzer to obtain gaseous hydrogen and oxygen directly from purified water. Thus, the sole inputs to the trailer are water, carbon dioxide and electricity, while the sole outputs are methanol, oxygen, and water. A distillation unit separates the methanol and water mixture on site so that the synthesized water can be reused in the electrolyzer. Here, we describe and characterize the operation of the methanol synthesis unit and offer some possible design improvements for future iterations of the device, based on experience.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME
Topics: Methanol



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