Global methanol demand to rise by 80% PDF Print E-mail

Study: Global methanol demand to rise by 80% in decade, led by China

09.01.2014  |  HP News

China will be the major driver of the demand increase, while at the same time, the methanol market in North America market is undergoing a renaissance of new projects.



Global methanol demand is set to rise significantly -- from 60.7 million tons in 2013 to more than 109 million tons in 2023 -- with an average annual growth rate of 6%, according to new IHS research released Friday.

China is expected to be the major driver of this demand increase, while at the same time, the North American methanol market -- riding the wave of low-cost US shale-derived feedstocks -- is undergoing a renaissance as new projects deliver significant capacity additions.

“The methanol market is in a period of rapid transition, especially the North American market, which is accelerating quickly, thanks in part, to inward Chinese investment that is taking advantage of the region’s low-cost shale gas resources to feed its derivative units” said Mike Nash, global director of syngas chemicals at IHS Chemical. 

“More than 50 million metric tons of global methanol capacity additions are expected between 2013 and 2023, with more than 17 [million tons] of that new capacity to be added in North America during the next decade,” he added. “This is more than six times today’s output, and heralds the return of the North American methanol industry as a production powerhouse.”

Methanol is often used in the chemical industry to make formaldehyde and acetic acid. Additionally, the new application of methanol-to-olefins (MTO), a development that has taken root in China, consumes merchant methanol and converts it into ethylene, propylene and other derivatives.

Methanol can also can be used in a variety of fuels, such as: direct blending into gasoline, biodiesel, as the gasoline oxygenate MTBE, as a substitute for propane, as ship bunker fuel or in fuel cells. Methanol demand into fuel applications represents a significant upside to methanol demand growth, according to IHS.

Nash said a “tidal wave of new US projects is being announced,” including “virtual integration” of methanol as a feedstock for derivative plants in China, and a restart or relocation of old plants, including two Methanex units, which are in the process of being completely disassembled, relocated from Chile to Louisiana, then reassembled and re-started.

According to IHS, China’s methanol consumption will more than double from 30 million tons in 2013 to 67.5 million tons in 2023. The country will address its accelerating demand growth mostly by the rapidly emerging methanol-to-olefins (MTO) technology. 

Yet, it is expected that domestic production will not be able to satisfy its growing local demand and, therefore, it will rely heavily on imports, IHS reports. To satisfy the country’s rapidly increasing appetite, China’s imports are projected to six-fold from more than 4 million tons in 2013 to almost 25 million tons by 2023.

“The growth of MTO plants that are not tied to coal production is booming on China’s East Coast, and we expect that this will have a major impact on the global methanol market, since the overall economics are advantaged,” said Nash. 

“For Chinese producers, the economics of creating olefins from methanol that has been derived from cheap coal and gas are better than creating olefins using the traditional, oil-based naphtha route, especially since the country’s coal industry is located in a remote, Western area. There they not only have a cost advantage, but they can also minimize the environmental impact that is a concern in the region.”

According to IHS experts, North America will become a net exporter of methanol in 2017. This will have a significant impact on global trade flows, which are likely to be followed by new pricing dynamics. Northeast Asia, Europe and North America were the world’s largest importing regions of methanol in 2013, representing more than 70% of total world import figures. 

Europe is expected to increase its import levels, whereas Northeast Asia imports are forecast to triple during the period 2013 to 2023. 
Why automakers will build more hydrogen fuel cell vehicles PDF Print E-mail

Why automakers will build more hydrogen fuel cell vehicles

By Jerry Hirsch contact the reporter

Hybrid VehiclesFuel-efficient VehiclesVehiclesConsumersManufacturing and EngineeringAutomotive EquipmentGlobal Warming

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are ready for prime time, UC Davis report says

Shorter fueling time, greater driving give fuel cell vehicles advantage over electric cars

Lack of hydrogen stations could hold back fuel cell vehicle rollout

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles could soon gain ground on electric cars in the race to develop zero-emission cars, according to a new report.

The auto industry is seeing a convergence of factors that make fuel cell cars more viable, according to the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis.


Bill would cap income eligibility for state's clean-vehicle rebates

Jerry Hirsch

California wants 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025 — more than 15 times the number now.

California wants 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025 — more than 15 times the number now. ( Jerry Hirsch )


Major automakers are pushing the technology. Hyundai began leasing its Tucson fuel cell crossover in Southern California earlier this year, targeting the handful of communities that have hydrogen fueling stations. Toyota and Honda plan to bring out their first mass-market fuel cell vehicles next year.

UC Davis transit experts say the key to this rollout is building clusters of hydrogen stations in urban and regional markets.

“We seem to be tantalizingly close to the beginning of a hydrogen transition,” said Joan Ogden, a UC Davis environmental science professor and director of Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways. “The next three to four years will be critical for determining whether hydrogen vehicles are just a few years behind electric vehicles, rather than decades.”

The researchers calculated that a targeted regional investment of $100 million to $200 million in support of 100 stations for about 50,000 fuel cell vehicles would be enough to make hydrogen cost-competitive with gasoline on a cost-per-mile basis. And that investment is poised to happen in at least three places: California, Germany and Japan. California, for example, plans to spend $46 million to build 28 hydrogen fuel stations. 

Also helping pave the way for the zero-emission cars are the continually declining expenses for the development of fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen station components, the report says. Ample low-cost natural gas for making hydrogen also helps.

Once people get the chance to see and drive the cars, consumer acceptance should be good, Ogden said.

“Hydrogen fuel cell cars offer consumer value similar or superior to today’s gasoline cars,” Ogden said. “The technology readily enables large vehicle size, a driving range of 300 to 400 miles, and a fast refueling time of three to five minutes.”

Other factors powering adoption of the hydrogen cars include:

—Consumer incentives such as vehicle purchase subsidies, tax exemptions, free parking and access to freeway carpool lanes.

—Global public funding of $1 billion a year for research and development of hydrogen cars and infrastructure. Moreover, UC Davis calculates that automakers have spent more than $9 billion on fuel cell development.

Near-term prospects for plentiful, low-cost hydrogen are good because of the boom in natural gas. The researchers said that cost effectively producing low-carbon hydrogen from renewable sources holds promise for greater greenhouse gas emission reductions.

But Ogden said fuel cell vehicles still face many bumps in the road.

“Hydrogen faces a range of challenges, from economic to societal, before it can be implemented as a large-scale transportation fuel,” Ogden said. “The question isn’t whether fuel cell vehicles are technically ready: They are. But how do you build confidence in hydrogen’s future for investors, fuel suppliers, automakers, and, of course, for consumers?”

Toxin leaves 500,000 in northwest Ohio without drinking water PDF Print E-mail

Top News

Toxin leaves 500,000 in northwest Ohio without drinking water

Sat, Aug 02 19:35 PM EDT


By George Tanber

TOLEDO Ohio (Reuters) - Dangerously high levels of toxins from algae on Lake Erie left 500,000 people in Toledo, Ohio, without safe drinking water on Saturday and sent many driving to other states in search of bottled water.

The crisis affects the state's fourth-largest city and surrounding counties, forcing most restaurants and the Toledo Zoo to close.

Ohio Governor John Kasich declared a state of emergency for the region, freeing up resources for the Ohio National Guard and state workers to truck safe water to people who need it.

City officials said in a statement that Lake Erie, the source of local drinking water, may have been impacted by a "harmful algal bloom."

In response to the Toledo crisis, Chicago is doing additional testing on Lake Michigan water as a precaution, and expects results in a day or two, city spokeswoman Shannon Breymaier said.

Blue-green algae are naturally found in Ohio's lakes, ponds and slow-moving streams. Algal blooms in Lake Erie are fairly common in recent years, typically in the summer, state emergency operations spokesman Chris Abbruzzese said.

Potentially dangerous algal blooms, which are rapid increases in algae levels, are caused by high amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous. Those nutrients can come from runoff of excessively fertilized fields and lawns or from malfunctioning septic systems or livestock pens, city officials said.

Officials could not say when Toledo's water service can be declared safe, and boiling the water will not destroy the toxic microcystins.

Drinking the contaminated water could affect the liver and cause diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, numbness or dizziness, city officials said.

The water should not be used for drinking, making infant formula, making ice, brushing teeth or preparing food, the governor's office said. It also should not be given to pets, but hand washing is safe and adults can shower in it, officials said.

As soon as the crisis became public early Saturday, all local stores sold out of their water supplies. That sent residents traveling in all directions to find supplies.

Jeff Hauter of Toledo drove to a Walmart in suburban Detroit, where he bought 18 gallons and four cases of water. He said he ran into others from the Toledo area loading up their trucks and cars.

A retired Toledo water department employee, Hauter said the crisis did not shock him.

"It's a lack of preventative maintenance over many city administrations," he said. "It was inevitable."

(Reporting by George Tanber in Toledo, Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles and Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Dan Whitcomb, Dan Grebler and Lisa Shumaker)

Methanol Use in Denitrification PDF Print E-mail

Effective Use to Clean Our Waterways 1


Importance of Denitrification

In 2012, the Gulf of Mexico “Dead Zone,” an area of eutrophication

(excessive plant/algae growth) and hypoxia (oxygen depletion), spans some

6,700 square miles (17,300 square kilometers) from the mouth of the

Mississippi River. Marine dead zones can be found in more than 400

estuaries worldwide including the Chesapeake Bay, Long Island Sound,

Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Mediterranean Sea, East China Sea, and

the South China Sea. These dead zones are caused by nutrient enrichment,

particularly nitrogen and phosphorous, that comes from agricultural run-off

and major point sources such as wastewater treatment plants.

Facing regulatory pressure, municipal wastewater treatment plant

operators around the globe are increasingly turning to a process of

biological nutrient removal or “denitrification” that is based on the addition

of methanol as a carbon source to accelerate the biodegradation of

nitrogen. The Methanol Institute engaged the environmental consulting

firm Exponent to prepare a 124-page white paper titled “Methanol in

Wastewater Denitrification,” providing a comprehensive overview of the

use of methanol in the removal of nitrogen from wastewater.


Denitrification around the World

The last several decades have seen a worldwide increase in the regulatory

control of nitrogen from municipal wastewater treatment plants. In the

United States, the Clean Water Act implements water regulation by

incorporating both technology-based and water-quality-based levels of

treatment. Historically, most WWTPs have treated to standards based on

the ability of secondary treatment to meet effluent standards, such as 30

mg/L for both biological oxygen demands (BOD) and total suspended solids.

As the impact of the macronutrients nitrogen and phosphorus on

eutrophication – a term used to describe when aquifers and waterways gain

too much nutrient from sewage and wastewater - has become more

apparent, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began to put more

emphasis on meeting water-quality-based standards. With too much 2

nutrient in waterways, surface plant life can grow rapidly starving the water

of oxygen and sunlight.

Given the regional nature of sources for impacted estuaries, the most

effective way to control the amount of nitrogen effluents is through

collaborative efforts of multiple jurisdictions. The Chesapeake Bay and Long

Island Sound programs are examples of coordination by state and local

agencies to reduce the total load of reactive nitrogen to regional water

bodies, which includes the upgrading of WWTPs to remove nitrogen from

their effluents.

The Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Facility, one of the largest in the

United States, continually meets, if not exceeds national standards for

nitrogen loadings in water each year. Furthermore, the addition of

methanol to the denitrification process has saved Blue Plains, and many

plants like it, millions of dollars over the long-term.

In Europe, the European Water Framework Directive (EU WFD) marked a

shift in focus, from point-source control to an integrated prevention and

control approach at the water-body level. As a result, tertiary wastewater

treatment has increased since 1990, although the percentage of wastewater

treatment plants with tertiary treatment varies by region. The EU WFD

caused the discharge standard for nitrogen in water to decrease from 10

mg/L to 2.2 mg/L. The goal of this action is to “promote sustainable water

use, protect the aquatic environment, improve the status of aquatic

ecosystems, mitigate the effects of floods and droughts, and reduce

pollution.” The two- step strategy to achieve the directive’s goals includes

the adoption of new wastewater treatment technologies which includes

biological denitrification.

In China, expanding industrialization has resulted in a rising need for

discharge standards and more effective wastewater treatment. As of 2002,

35.5% of rivers in China were not suitable for drinking-water use due to

pollution issues, which has led to water shortages. Environmental legislation

put in place in 2003 sets Class 1A effluent discharge standards at <5 mg/L

ammonia nitrogen and <15 mg/L total nitrogen. As of 2002, only 39% of

wastewater in China was being treated; the number grew officially to 59%

as of 2008. In the last several years, almost a dozen existing WWTPs have

been upgraded to biologically remove nitrogen using denitrification filters,

with methanol as the supplemental carbon source. 3


Denitrification Process

In order to meet mandated ammonia discharge requirements, most

municipal systems in the United States practice nitrification, which adds

additional nitrogen to the water. However, only about five percent of Nr is

removed through engineered treatment systems. A tertiary nitrogen

removal system presents a method for removing a large portion of the

nitrogen concentration from wastewater effluent before it is discharged.

Through a process known as "denitrification," water treatment facilities

convert the excess nitrate into nitrogen gas which is then vented into the


The removal of nitrogen in biological treatment systems consists of four

basic steps. The first step is the conversion of organic nitrogen to ammonia

in a process called ammonification. Ammonia is then converted to nitrate in

a two-step aerobic process called nitrification—the conversion of ammonia

to nitrite followed by the conversion of nitrite to nitrate. Finally, conversion

and removal of nitrate can be carried out using various treatment

configurations. All treatment systems, however, require an aerobic zone for

converting ammonia to nitrate and an anoxic zone for converting the nitrate

to nitrogen gas. One of the more common approaches to retrofitting

existing facilities is to extend the aeration period to allow for nitrification,

followed by a filtration system for denitrification. Because organic carbon is

consumed mostly in the extended aeration process, it is often necessary to

add a carbon source, such as methanol, especially when the discharge

requirements for total nitrogen are low.


Role of Methanol

As part of the denitrification process, methanol plays a crucial role in

reducing environmentally-damaging effluent that is discharged by

wastewater treatment facilities across the globe. Methanol is a naturally

occurring, biodegradable molecule and is employed in these operations

because of its favorable chemical properties. Nearly 200 wastewater

treatment facilities across the United States are currently using methanol in

their denitrification process. Methanol is the most common organic

compound used in denitrification, accelerating the activity of anaerobic

bacteria that break down harmful nitrate. In an anoxic tertiary nitrogen

removal system, an external carbon source, such as methanol, is often

required to ensure that denitrification is maximized. 4


Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Results

The three common external carbon sources, capable of removing nitrogen

from wastewater, methanol, ethanol and acetic acid were by examined for

tertiary nitrogen removal by using a life-cycle assessment (LCA). LCA is a tool

that allows for the impacts of a product or process to be compared across

different life stages and impact categories. This ensures that the

environmental burden is not being shifted from state to state, or location to

location, in pursuit of environmental goals, and allows for the overall impact

of the product to be examined.

LCA was used to evaluate the following nine impact categories: ozone

depletion, global warming, acidification, eutrophication, smog formation,

ecotoxicity, particulate respiratory effects, human carcinogenic effects, and

human non-carcinogenic effects. In terms of environmental impact, they are

not all the same. In the nine impact categories presented, methanol has the

lowest impact in eight of the categories. The exception to this is ozone

depletion, where ethanol has the lowest impact. Acetic acid has the greatest

impacts in seven of the categories, with the exception of acidification and

eutrophication, where ethanol has the highest impact. In terms of relative

environmental impact among the three external carbon sources, methanol

has the lower impact in most

Honda hydrogen fuel cell car stylishly envisaged PDF Print E-mail

Honda hydrogen fuel cell car stylishly envisaged

Honda, on the heels of Toyota and Hyundai, will launch a hydrogen fuel cell next year. Unlike the others, however, the new car’s final design is still under wraps. 

The design of clean energy cars is often argued. Some believe that an innovative powertrain should be reflected by avant-garde design, like the Nissan LEAF or BMW i8. Others think a traditionally attractive aesthetic is important if you don’t want to scare of potential customers, which is an attitude Tesla has adopted for the Model S.

Hyundai’s Tucson Fuel Cell is simply a converted version of the regular, gasoline-powered model. It’s hardly exciting, but it’s a safe bet. Toyota has gone a little further, developing a new design language that, although still largely conventional, tells us that the car is different from other vehicles.


That leaves Honda, who, were things to balance up nicely, would come along with a prophetic vision of what mobility should look like in the future. It’s unlikely this scenario will unfold, as the Japanese carmaker is targeting relatively strong sales, but there’s certainly scope for originality.

concept car revealed during last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show (above) is clearly too adventurous to accurately portray what the car will look like, but the radical design suggests that the successor to the FCX Clarity will be anything but dull.

The render pictured at the top of the page, by Dillion C, aka Hondatalover, shows a production version of the AC-X plug-in hybrid concept (below) showed us at the 2011 Tokyo Auto Show.

That the AC-X was a plug-in hybrid and the upcoming fuel cell car will be hydrogen-powered is irrelevant. What matters is the progression of Honda’s clean-energy design language – the LA concept clearly followed on from the concept at Tokyo, but its the former car that’s closer to reality.


With a low nose – permitted by the lack of a cumbersome engine – and a raised, elongated tail providing space for high-pressure hydrogen tanks, this steeply raked vision of Honda’s 2016 fuel cell sedan seems close to the mark for us. I even borrows the rear light styling from the hotly anticipated Acura NSX hybrid sportscar.

With a 300-mile range it’s easy to imagine such a car going up against the Tesla Model S.

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