A new pilot plant built by Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Europe is now being commissioned jointly with the client RWE Power and other partners at the power plant site in Niederaußem.

The so-called ‘MefCO2’ project takes CO2 generated and separated at the plant and combines it with hydrogen to create methanol. The hydrogen is captured by means of electrolysis using excess electricity from renewable energy. The new facility can produce up to a tonne of methanol daily from 1.5 tonne of carbon dioxide.

Methanol can be put to a variety of uses, including directly as fuel, or further refined into synthetic fuel or dimethyl ether (DME) and then employed as a diesel substitute in heavy cargo or shipping transport. This results in significant reductions in emissions of nitrogen oxide and soot particles. It can also be used to operate diesel generators employed for peak load and emergency power, for example. Methanol is also in great demand worldwide as a raw material used in the chemical industry.

“These types of synthetic fuels can take the place of fossil resources and significantly reduce CO2 emissions,” says Thomas Bohner, CEO at MHPS Europe.

As part of the MefCO2 project, the MHPS was responsible for engineering, procurement and commissioning, and, working in a consortium with eight other partners (manufacturers, universities and research institutes from several European countries), oversaw the integration of various components and systems. The budget of the project, which is being funded by the EU under its research and innovation project Horizon2020 is about €11 million.

The process could be useful for waste incineration, and for other industrial facilities that produce CO2, which can be converted into a valuable commodity through projects like the one in Niederaußem.

For MHPS Europe the MefCO2 pilot plant is one of several elements on the road toward building a low CO2 energy landscape. “Our company is able to draw on a broad range of relevant technologies that are either already in use or soon will be,” says Thomas Bohner. “These range from fuel cells to geothermal systems as well as hydrogen-powered gas turbines.”