Important basic chemical
Methanol produced by Ferrostaal is one of the most important basic chemicals in the petrochemical industry. It provides the basis for a wide range of products used in almost all areas of modern life. The organic chemical compound produced in our methanol plants is the simplest type of alcohol.
At room temperature, methanol is a clear, colorless, flammable and volatile liquid. Methanol is generally obtained from fossil fuels. In our methanol plants natural gas is used as feedstock.
Methanol can be used in many different applications. For example, not only does it play a major role in the chemical industry and petrochemicals - it has also become an indispensable energy source. Methanol is used in the energy sector in its pure form or mixed with other fuels, and is also employed in producing fuels.
Steady presence in daily life
Methanol and methanol-based products are widely used in everyday life. With our world scale methanol plants, we contribute to producing a large number of industrial commodities such as plastics, varnishes, medicines, adhesives and textiles.
Methanol in the petrochemical industry
In the petrochemical industry methanol is used to create numerous high-quality basic chemicals. In terms of quantity, the most important are formaldehyde, acetic acid, MTBE, methyl methacrylate, methyl chloride and methylamines, which are in turn themselves processed to produce further derivatives.
Methanol as an energy carrier
In addition, methanol's role as energy carrier is growing strongly. In the energy sector, methanol is either used directly as a fuel or as a raw material for petrochemical conversion into other fuels. Above all, a constantly increasing percentage has been used in recent years as an additive for other fuels or for producing biodiesel.
Methanol production process
Methanol can be obtained from fossil and renewable raw materials. The most relevant though is natural gas.
The feedstock, natural gas, is first preheated for removal of sulphur compounds (desulphurization). Preheated and desulphurized, natural gas is then catalytically reformed to produce synthesis gas which consists of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen.
In this step syngas reacts with the help of copper catalyst to produce crude methanol. Crude methanol generally contains water and small quantities of by-products.
High purity methanol is typically obtained through a two-column distillation system. The first column removes light ends, i.e. typically those impurities which are more volatile than methanol. The second column separates water and other by-products such as heavy alcohols, thus providing high quality methanol.
Increasing demand for methanol
We planned, financed and constructed the biggest methanol plant in the world at its time, M5000 in Trinidad (5.000 tons per day), for MHTL. In a decade of long partnership we have significantly contributed to MHTL´s growth, today one of the leading global players in the market.
The demand for methanol is constantly increasing. In the period from 1995 to 2008, the average growth rate was 4.5 percent, and an annual increase of eight percent is forecast by 2014. Particularly strong growth in the use of methanol can be observed in the fuels sector: Recent years have witnessed an increasing trend to add methanol to conventional fuels and to produce biodiesel. The growth in the demand for dimethyl ether is currently above average. Dimethyl ether can be used as a replacement for diesel, to name just one application.