FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions


Synthetic production of methanol from CO2, H2O and electric current

1) Where does CO2 come from?

The easiest way is to collect the CO2 wherever it accumulates in large quantities:
– Flue gases from combustion processes (e.g. coal-fired power plants, internal combustion engines, waste incineration plants)
– Collecting the flue gases (CO2, H2O) during operation of the ECONIMO plants
– In biogas plants about the same amount of CO2 is produced as CH4 (methane).

CO2 can also be extracted locally in sufficient quantities from the atmosphere (e.g. http://www.climeworks.com/)

In the currently 5,000-t/y methanol producing pilot plant in Iceland (www.carbonrecycling.is), CO2 is recovered from the geothermally produced water (mineral water).

2) How great is the efficiency?

The pilot plant in Iceland achieves a conversion efficiency of electric current into methanol-stored energy of about 60%. The limiting factor is the electrolysis of H2O. For economic reasons this is about 70%, as the electrode material is consumed too rapidly with higher yields.
New electrolytic processes with greater efficiency at lower cost are currently being developed.

3) Is the energy for the production of methanol “clean”?

The electric current for the production of our methanol originates from renewable energy sources such as wind power, photovoltaic systems, wave power plants or geothermal energy.

Power generation from methanol

1) What are the available options to generate power from methanol?

Methanol is suitable for power generation by means of:
– Piston engines, as currently also used in CHP units – powered with gas or diesel as fuel
– Gas turbines
– Fuel cells
– Thermophotovoltaic converters

2) How does the thermal photovoltaic conversion of methanol to energy function?

Methanol is catalytically decomposed with oxygen (from the atmosphere or enriched) on the front side of a suitably coated carrier (e.g. ceramic plate). The energy released is supplied almost entirely to the carrier, which can reach temperatures of up to about 1,500 degrees C. The reverse side of the carrier is coated with a selectively emitting material, which emits primarily in the near infrared of one micrometre wavelength. This radiation is then converted into electrical energy by high-output photovoltaic cells.

Properties of methanol

1) Is methanol toxic?

All alcohols are toxic, even the potable alcohol ethanol.
The handling of methanol or e.g. petrol requires similar handling precautions. Both substances are combustible, explosive under certain conditions and can cause serious damage to health if ingested. Unlike petrol, methanol burns with a colourless flame, can cause blindness if ingested and mixes well with water, consequently, it cannot be extracted by a separator. Detailed information on the properties and safe handling of methanol is compiled on – www.methanol.org.

Econimo Mini Power Plants

1) Which locations are ideal for our Econimo mini power plants?

Our Econimo mini power plants are ideal for residential buildings of 10-15 families, for school buildings, hospitals, homes for the elderly and office buildings.

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