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R&D on Bio-methanol

R&D on Bio-methanol

TISTR is a research and development (R&D) institute of Thailand where conducting R&D projects on renewable energy for over decades until its achievement in driving the bio-energy for commercialization.

By the development of industrial and transportation sectors, fossil fuels are consumed for energy supply in large amount. It is raising of environmental pollution obviously as well. Therefore, TISTR researchers have their mission of R&D to explore solutions and innovations for renewable energy such as to replace, reduce the use, make utmost effective use, reduce the occurrence of pollution, and increase energy security to our society.

With the guiding principles of TISTR especially STI for bio-based and area-based. R&D projects on renewable energy of TISTR are in consistent to the government policy and direction toward Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Economy especially the new renewable energy that made from waste-to-energy and bio-based gas and diesel.

Over decades ago, ethanol was one highlight of TISTR and in response to the royal initiatives of His Majesty the King Rama IX. The agro-waste particularly cassava was utilized for ethanol production. The project was supported by PTT Public Company Limited, Bangchak Corporation Public Company Limited, and SangSom Company Limited and achieved in biomass energy production at 1,500 liters per day supplied to those companies. The produced ethanol was mixed by gasoline which was the starting point of E10, E20 and E85.Presently, the R&D for 100% ethanol to replace in gasoline is in focus of TISTR. Moreover, TISTR has its ethanol pilot plant in Kampangpetch as a platform of R&D to explore alternative or non-food plants for cellulosic feedstock instead of cassava. Its aim is to reduce the production cost of ethanol from cassava respectively.

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After 2003, R&D on biodiesel was emphasized by TISTR. The crude palm oil was used to react with methanol for biodiesel production. There were prototypes with production capacity at 150 litres per day, and 1,500 litres per day. Currently, there are 14 biodiesel production plants having total production capacity at 7 million litres per day to replace the use of standard diesel in transportation sector. Moreover, the government is promoting 10% and 20% biodiesel or B10 and B20 in pickups and trucks respectively.

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TISTR participated in SATREPS Project on Innovation on Production and Automotive Utilization of Biofuels from Non-Food Biomass in 2010 – 2016 under Japanese Government support by JST and JICA 

 

In 2014, TISTR started its R&D on bio-methanol production. The concept was on utilization of biomass conversion technology to bio-methanol. The production began by having biogas with carbon components namely methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) which reacted with water (H2O) transformed into synthesis gas (CO2/CO/H2). After that, hydrogenation of carbon monoxide (CO) to form bio-methanol (CH3OH). The chart of key processes of bio-methanol production is showed below.

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Bio-methanol

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Value Chain of Bio-methanol

 

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Cooperation with Private Companies and Universities

 

Although the bio-methanol production was successful, but the cost was still high. TISTR then conducted the further development by applying carbon dioxide gas to react in ratio of 70% carbon dioxide gas to 30% methane to decrease the cost of production. It was in consistent to the Paris Agreement in related to greenhouse gas reduction as well.

By the above-mentioned achievement, TISTR still conducted further development of bio-methanol in commercial scale. There were 2 large entrepreneurs where released carbon dioxide gas signed the agreement for the development of this technology from TISTR. These companies are the key player and pioneer for bio-methanol production in the country.

In 2018, TISTR signed the agreement with Kryotech Development Company Limited (KTD) where having its gas separation plant for PTT Public Company Limited participated with TISTR committed to develop the bio-methanol production from biogas at lease 5,000 litres per day (Commercial Scale) to KTD.

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TISTR Signed Agreement with Kryotech Development Company Limited (KTD) in 2018

 

Thereafter in 2019, TISTR signed agreement with RE Biomethanol (RBM) of RE Power Services Company Limited (RPS Group) where having big biogas pond at capacity size at 150,000 queues per day. TISTR served to design and develop the process of bio-methanol production from its biogas at 10,000 litres per day.

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TISTR Signed Agreement with RE Biomethanol (RBM) of RE Power Services Company Limited (RPS Group in 2019

In addition, TISTR also has other project in consistent to the way of international countries where mixing hydrogen and carbon dioxide gas to form methanol. However, distillation is the other necessary process to remove water from methanol which cost the production. TISTR collaborated with BLCP Power Company Limited, the coal power plant in Thailand to utilize carbon dioxide gas waste from the electricity generation to react with hydrogen gas derived during transformation of sea water to fresh water for cooling the electricity generation machinery. However, this process was still costly. The further development is under process by TISTR.

In conclusion, methanol itself is considered as fuel. It is also the important chemical feasible to be methyl ester (Biodiesel), acetic acid, formaldehyde on plastic production. Therefore, methanol can provide benefit to various entrepreneurs of food factory, agricultural sector producing biogas from waste, and ethanol production plant. This is in line with circular economy of waste to energy and utmost utilization.

The future forward of TISTR in methanol is R&D on liquid petroleum gas (LPG) production for local communities and domestic uses, and R&D on bio gasoline for competitive price. These are on awareness of TISTR on bio-based and area-based, including the great impact for energy security and sustainability to the country.

 

Awards 

  • 2018 TISTR Innovation Award 2018 (Research & Development)
  • 2018 TISTR Best Scientific Manuscript Award 2018
  • 2019 Best Presentation Award (Oral Presentation in The 3rd ASEAN Bioenergy and Bioeconomy Conference – ABB2019)
  • 2020 Best Paper Award (The Thai Institute of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry – TIChe 2020)

 

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For inquiries or interest of bio-methanol, the key researcher is  Dr. Rujira Jitrwung, Senior Research Officer, Expert Centre of Innovative Clean Energy and Environment (InnoEn) of TISTR can be contacted at e-mail rujira_j@tistr.or.th, or visit InnoEn page at https://www.tistr.or.th/innoEn/.

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