What Is A Methanol Reactor, And What Are Its Uses?
Methanol is a game-changer in terms of providing an alternative to petroleum-based fuels. It can easily be made from the renewable biomass hydrocarbon source using partial oxidation in an oxygen-blown gasifier. This then leads to the production of synthesis gas which is then converted into methanol. However, for this process to be successful, you must use a methanol reactor, sometimes called the distillation column system. It has three gas recycle streams that produce high-purity methanol from the synthesis gas. But, what is a methanol reactor, and what exactly does it do?
What Is A Methanol Reactor?
A Methanol reactor is a developed plantwide control structure and can handle large disturbances in the production rate and synthesis gas composition. It has a unique feature of lack of pressure control and a high-pressure override controller. The override controller handles all the stoichiometric imbalances in the composition of the synthesis of its gas feed.
It has a shell-tube shape and is majorly used for the production of methanol. First, there is the evaporation of boiling water on the shell side. This provides an excellent and efficient method for removing the reaction heat from the exothermic STM process on the tube side. Then, in the shell tube, hydrogen is reacted with carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide as the synthesis gas, producing methanol. The byproduct of this reaction is water.
Afterward, a gas-phase exothermic reaction is conducted in a packed tubular reactor. Cooling then takes place using steam.
What Are The Uses?
Methanol synthesis involves synthesising methanol from sustainable, non-fossil hydrogen. This involves combining water electrolysis using solar energy, which then combines with carbon dioxide garnered from the coal power plant. The process covers the synthesis of traditional CZA-based catalysts and the possibilities of novel materials.
Methanol reactors can provide:
A higher carbon dioxide conversion rate.
Significant methanol yield than traditional reactors.
Some of its uses include the following:
Modeling Methanol Synthesis
Methanol synthesis has made a name for itself and is one of the standing innovations in future global energy discussions. With the help of heavy engineering companies in India, the sustainability and the cost-effective process of methanol synthesis is achievable successfully. However, the optimisation design and control have to be successful too for the process to be effectively desirable.
Utilising Carbon Dioxide For Global Sustainability
Methanol reaction utilises the carbon dioxide hydrogenation process. The methanol reactor provides a safe and secure environment for this reaction to occur at 250 degrees celsius. An isothermal fixed bed reactor is used in the reactor as a plug flow reactor using the kinetics of Van-Dai and Bouallou. One percentage of the recycle stream is purged to help prevent the accumulation of inert gasses.
The combustion process of the purge stream, together with heat from the exothermic methanol synthesis, is used for steam generation. Finally, the steam gets integrated into the carbon capture unit’s stripper.
Upgrading Biogas And Syngas
In the methanol reactor, the byproducts of methanol production include methyl formate, acetone, higher alcohols, and CH4. In recent years, Cu catalysts have commercially produced methanol from syngas. Methanol production produces a lot of heat; one major challenge has always been removing the excess heat. This is because the catalyst lifespan decreases at high temperatures.
Another challenge has been increasing conversion efficiency, and this has been rendered achievable by working with Godrej, a heavy engineering company in India. There are several other ways to achieve this, which include the following: lowering the operating temperature or removing the heat. This will shift the reaction towards the products. However, in this case, the catalyst reaction will also reduce. Secondly, the unreacted syngas can be recirculated, and finally, remove the methanol as quickly as possible as it is produced. This will improve the conversion efficiency.
Natural Gas Conversion
Methanol synthesis is described in terms of its module which is, M=(H2-CO2)/(CO+CO2). The syngas has to be balanced for methanol reaction when the module is equal to 2. However, in industrial applications, the hydrogen gas percentage is always a few percentages in excess to suppress byproduct formation. In the real world, the feedstocks of nature certainly contain higher hydrocarbons, the same as CH4. In such cases, the module of 2 has to be reached with carbon dioxide import corresponding to a ratio of 1:3.
The future is already aiming at phasing out fossil fuels, and more sustainable forms of energy are on the table. However, while these sustainable energy sources may look promising, there will be a need for storage equipment for the energy when it’s at peak production for eventual use on lean days. This is where methanol reactors help convert this energy into chemical energy.