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Turning CO2 into renewable methanol at a geothermal plant in Iceland

Methanol (Vulcanol) car of Carbon Recycling International, Iceland (source: CRI)
Alexander Richter 25 Jul 2018

Icelandic Carbon Recycling International (CRI) is turning CO2 into methanol used to be mixed with gasoline, which is now being exported to the UK. In this video by CRI get some insight in how this is done.

Icelandic company Carbon Recycling International has received a lot of international attention. Last week WIRED ran a story on them in the context of providing cars in the UK with waste CO2 from the geothermal power plant at Svartsengi in Iceland.

“Shipped in two van-sized containers, 23,000 litres of methanol have now been blended with UK gasoline, for distribution in several petrol stations. What comes out of the pump is a mix of just three per cent methanol per litre of fuel, the same as for methanol produced from biofuels that is already being added to petrol.

The total amount of the Icelandic methanol now in the UK is enough to power 40 cars for a year, says Benedikt Stefánsson, the head of business development of the company that made the fuel, Carbon Recycling International (CRI). That may sound like a drop in the ocean, though – so why is it a big deal?

Well, cars run on gasoline – a fossil fuel – which massively contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Europe, like (most) of the rest of the world, has ambitious goals to reduce these, set out in the 2015 Paris accord that is set to tackle climate change. “

“In Europe, methanol per litre of petrol is capped at three per cent – add any more, and the car will no longer be under warranty. But it’s not everywhere like that. In fact, says Turner, there is no engineering reason for cars not to fully run on methanol. In China, for instance, 15 per cent of methanol is routinely mixed into petrol for cars, in the hope of tackling air pollution. There are even cars that run on 85 per cent methanol and only 15 per cent gasoline.”

Read the full piece via the link to the WIRED article and have a look how it is being done in the video by CRI