UTCEINewsBenelux's First E-Methanol System Constructed by HoSt Group & University of Twente with €4 Million Subsidy

Benelux's First E-Methanol System Constructed by HoSt Group & University of Twente with €4 Million Subsidy

Bright Renewables and HyGear, both part of the HoSt Group, together with the University of Twente, are set to construct Benelux's first E-Methanol system. Their joint project, "Towards Acceleration and Demonstration of E-Methanol" (TANDEM), received a total of nearly €4 million subsidy, covering half of the total €8 million investment. The project targets the development of technology for producing E-Methanol, a sustainable fuel alternative to conventional fuels for heavy-duty transport, including ships and aviation. Spanning a total of four years, the project is set to produce its initial batch of renewable methanol by the third quarter of 2025.

In this consortium, Bright Renewables (Enschede) is developing the methanol reactor technology, HyGear (Arnhem) is providing a 1MW electrolyser with polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) technology, and the University of Twente (Enschede) is researching heat exchange, vital for the process, and the most optimal way for scaling up the project using a twin-test reactor. Of the total €4 million subsidy provided, €600,000 is allocated specifically for the university's research.

Martin Bos is R&D Manager at HoSt Group, the mother company of Bright Renewables and HyGear, and explains the innovative character of this project: “The subsidy was granted due to our innovative design which focuses on process intensification. We’ve designed a technology that uses fewer materials and operates at lower temperatures and pressures than existing technologies, resulting in lower energy consumption and a reduced total cost of ownership”.

The project's total funding comes from a ‘GroenVermogenNL’ subsidy, underpinned by the ‘Nationaal Groeifonds’. All intermediate steps and required technologies are engineered and developed in-house and in close local collaboration with the university around the corner.

Preventing grid congestion effectively

The system with a capacity of 500 tons per year of grade AA E-methanol will be constructed at the site of HyGear in Arnhem, the Netherlands. Here, it will utilise captured CO2 and electricity sourced from unsubsidised solar and wind power produced within the Netherlands. This e-methanol system is for smaller-scale use and can be set up near local solar or wind farms. It can utilise sustainable electricity directly, helping to reduce grid congestion issues. Annually, the system can produce enough sustainable fuel for a large inland ship to travel 30,000 km with 10,000 containers.

Wim Brilman, professor at the University of Twente, on the importance of dynamic operation: “We want to investigate how predictable the reactor performs under the varying availability of sustainable energy. Being able to store excess renewable electricity in the form of methanol, helps to minimise grid congestion, maximises the potential of solar and wind farms, and provides a CO2 neutral fuel.”

CO2-neutral fuel
Methanol, the simplest form of alcohol, is produced by combining hydrogen with carbon dioxide (CO2) or carbon monoxide (CO) in a reactor, also known as methanol synthesis. As a liquid at room temperature and pressure, it serves as an efficient energy carrier or storage medium. In this E-methanol system, the CO2 will be sourced from biogenic CO2, captured from biogas plants or biomass- or waste-fired boiler plants, with (green) hydrogen supplied through electrolysis.

Designed for decentralised operation, this system produces CO2-neutral methanol using biogenic CO2. With legislative and regulatory momentum increasingly supporting CO2 capture to achieve national goals, there is a push towards these sustainable practices. By 2030, it is projected that 2.1 Megatons of biogenic CO2 will be available for use in the Netherlands alone. Additionally, decentralising production directly at end-user sites cuts down on transportation, further enhancing the system's efficiency and sustainability.

K.W. Wesselink - Schram MSc (Kees)
Science Communication Officer (available Mon-Fri)