The pilot project is aiming to produce 4,000-8,000 tonnes of sustainable methanol a year, an important step in the transition to alternative energy sources and a carbon-neutral port.
To achieve this, Port of Antwerp is bringing various experts together. ENGIE, Oiltanking, Indaver, Vlaamse Milieuholding (VMH) and Helm-Proman have all declared their support for the project, and several knowledge institutes have also committed themselves.
“In practical terms we will produce methanol from waste CO2 and sustainably generated hydrogen,” explained Didier Van Osselaer, project manager at Port of Antwerp.
“The waste CO2 will be collected by a new process called Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU) in which at least some of the CO2 emissions are recovered. This CO2 is then combined with hydrogen generated on a sustainable basis using green energy in a new electrolysis plant. These two processes – CCU and electrolysis – together form the perfect basis for producing sustainable methanol.”
At present, the Belgian port uses around 300,000 tonnes of methanol annually for chemical processes and fuel production. The methanol, however, is obtained from fossil sources that will eventually run out.
The new methanol production process can help Port of Antwerp avoid producing one tonne of CO2 emissions – or twice that amount – per tonne of methanol generated.
Once the sustainable production of methanol is matured, its uses can be applied to power tug boats, with Port of Antwerp saying that its ambition is to introduce a first methanol-powered tug in the near future.
Port of Antwerp ceo Jacques Vandermeiren said: “With this innovative project we aim to smooth the path for alternative energy sources in the port of Antwerp.”