Howden to deliver hydrogen compression for world’s first climate neutral methanol plant

Howden, a leading global provider of mission critical air and gas handling products has been selected to deliver a hydrogen compression solution to Johnson Matthey (JM), a leader in sustainable technologies, to support commitment to supply leading-edge technologies, equipment and advisory services to the world’s first methanol plant to harness energy from the wind, in Patagonia, Chile. 

The Haru Oni project will enable production of e-fuels to supply Europe and other regions. This initiative is set to contribute to the achievement of the Green Deal commitment taken by the European Commission by raising the EU’s climate target for 2030 that would lead to Europe being the first climate-neutral continent in 2050.

This new production unit will deliver around 900,000 litres per year of e-methanol as early as 2022, with future full-scale production units ready by 2026 delivering 550 million litres of e-fuels per year, sufficient for about 220,000 gasoline vehicles at 50 litres use per week. 

Together, the transport and industry sectors are responsible for 45% of the world’s CO₂-emissions. However, in these sectors, renewable energy sources have reduced emissions by less than 8%. The excellent wind conditions in southern Chile mean producing carbon-neutral fuel using wind power is a new and a realistic opportunity. Final products will be e-methanol and e-gasoline, produced from methanol via methanol-to-gasoline process and exported in the form of liquid fuel.

So far, Methanol has been produced primarily from natural gas by means of steam methane reforming (SMR), a mature, highly integrated and cost-effective process. But, when derived from fossil sources, the production of this conventional “grey” methanol involves high CO2 emissions. 

The synthesis of methanol from H2 and CO2 requires the development of a syngas compression unit at the methanol plant. Howden’s hydrogen compression solution delivers process performance excellence through reliability, efficiency and safety to the syngas unit, which is dependent on temperature, pressure and catalyst features. 

Global Director, Environment Hydrogen of Howden, Salah Mahdy, stated: “This cooperation with Johnson Matthey, a solutions provider for syngas decarbonisation, demonstrates Howden’s capabilities in developing and delivering state-of-the-art hydrogen compression solutions for climate-neutral fuels like e-diesel, e-gasoline or e-kerosene, that can be used to power cars, trucks, ships or aircrafts. The sustainable fuel landscape offers an opportunity where Howden’s hydrogen compression expertise of over 100 years, can support production of carbon-neutral fuels from renewable energy“.                                                                                                 

JM will license methanol technology and supply the engineering, catalyst and equipment for the ground breaking project. The JM designed unit will take atmospheric carbon dioxide as feedstock for the conversion to e-methanol. This carbon dioxide will be recovered by direct air capture and combined with green hydrogen (produced from water proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis). Using JM’s latest innovative catalyst, the pilot unit will further demonstrate JM’s lead in the area of green chemicals and fuels, and commitment to decarbonisation and sustainability.

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