A comparative techno-economic analysis of renewable methanol synthesis from biomass and CO2: Opportunities and barriers to commercialization

Kylee Harris, R. Grim, Zhe Huang, Ling Tao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus Citations

Abstract

Global demand for methanol as both a chemical precursor and a fuel additive is rising. At the same time, numerous renewable methanol production pathways are under development, which, if commercialized, could provide significant environmental benefits over traditional methanol synthesis pathways. However, it is difficult to compare technologies at different maturity levels, with differing feedstocks, and with significant differences in overall process design. Thus, there is a need to harmonize the analyses of renewable pathways using a consistent techno-economic approach to evaluate the potential for commercialization of various pathways. This analysis uses a novel cross-comparison method to assess near-term and long-term viability of both low- and high-maturity level technologies. The techno-economic assessment considers cost factors critical to market acceptance combined with carbon- and energy-efficiency assessments of three renewable pathways compared with a commercial baseline. We find that biomass gasification to methanol represents a near-term viable pathway with a high technology readiness level and commercially competitive market price. If cost-reducing technological improvements can be realized and scaled up in the CO2 electrolysis pathways, the potential for higher carbon efficiencies may help drive market adoption of these more modular, direct conversion pathways in future markets as they present an opportunity to better support global decarbonization efforts through efficient waste carbon utilization.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number117637
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Energy
Volume303
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-79764

Keywords

  • Carbon efficiency
  • Energy efficiency
  • Methanol
  • Renewable carbon
  • Techno-economic analysis
  • Waste carbon conversion

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