Liquid-Phase Methanol
Process (LPMeOH)
Jill DeTroye, Brandon Hurn, Kyle Ludwig, and
Isaac Zaydens
Overview
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Introduction to LPMeOH
Process
LPMeOH Features
Performance
Commercial Applications
Environment and Economic
Analysis
● Conclusion and
Recommendations
Slurry Bubble Column Reactor installation
Image adapted from Kirkland et al.
Introduction
● LPMEOH technology was first developed in the 1980’s in LaPorte
Texas
● The DOE wanted to develop a more economic and efficient way to
convert coal-derived synthesis gas into methanol
● Over 7,400 hours of test operation in a DOE-owned 10 tons-perday Process Development Unit
● Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, Tennessee was the first
commercial-scale plant for LPMEOH technology
Introduction
● Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. and Eastman Chemical Company
partnered to form Air Products Liquid Phase Conversion Company,
L.P.
● Together and with the DOE they participated in the Clean Coal
Technology Program demonstration of LPMEOH technology.
● Purpose was to demonstrate the scale-up and operability of the
LPMEOH process with different coal-based syngas feed
compositions
Process
● Old system
o Catalyst pellets
o Gas phase
● LPMEOH
o Powder catalyst
slurried in an inert
mineral oil
● High heat removal
● Higher Syngas
conversion
Image adapted from Heydorn et al.
LPMEOH Features
Conventional Methanol Production
● Water gas shift reactor
needed to adjust
stoichiometry of feedstocks
o 16% CO concentration
● Cannot endure sharp transient
operations
● Produce crude methanol
o 4%-20% water by weight
● Interrupted operation
LPMEOH
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Syngas with large amounts of carbon
oxides can be directly processed
o Over 50% CO concentration
Can handle sudden changes and idling
Produce high quality methanol
o 1% water by weight
Remove and add catalyst slurry
LPMEOH PFD
Image adapted from Kirkland et al.
Performance
● Produce 260 short tons/day or 80,000 gallons/day during the within 4 days
o Exceed 115% within 6 days
● Catalyst deactivation rate
o Campaign 1 - 0.4% per day
o Campaign 2 to 3 - 0.6% to 0.7% per day
o Campaign 4 - 0.17% per day
o trace amounts of arsenic and sulfur were the main poisons
● Unit plant availability - 97.5%
Commercial Applications
● Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) Coproduction
o Converts coal-derived syngas from power plant to methanol
o Flexibility in syngas composition
o Continuous vs. off-peak power shaving
Image adapted from Heydorn et al.
Commercial Applications
Image adapted from Heydorn et al.
Commercial Applications
● Distributed Generation
o No sulfur
o Low NOx
o Energy security
● Turbines
● Diesel engines
● Fuel cells
● Fuel alternative
Environmental Implications
● Project developed with alleviation of environmental impacts in mind
● Generally, coal-based or fossil fuel-based (particularly natural gas)
methods used for methanol production
o LPMEOH resulted in reduction of carbon emissions
o Methanol produced for fuel purposes:
 Free of sulfur
 Contained <1 wt% water
o When used as a fuel, showed significantly reduced NOx emissions
with comparable performance
● Start-up process produced no noticeable environmental hazards
● Further improvements possible via “site-specific” design considerations
o Proximity to waste disposal sites
Waste Production
● Demonstration unit showed no significant impact to local environment due
to process activity
● June 30, 1995: a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) issued,
indicating an environmentally-sound process
● Lower-than-expected production of waste products including:
o Spent catalyst
o Waste Oil
o Recovered Distillate liquids
o Waste Water
● All waste products easily handled and disposed of effectively.
Economic
● This method would not replace but instead couple with an existing
methanol production method, Integrated Gasification Combined
Cycle (IGCC)
● Potential to realize a 25% reduction in variable cost of production to
as low as $.50 per gallon of methanol.
● Economic estimates predict a return on investment of roughly 15%
● This process will allow a clean, cost effective transformation of coal
into a practical, environmentally-friendly chemical feedstock
● In any case, the co-production of methanol remains economically
preferable to offshore natural gas processing
Conclusion and
Recommendations
● LPMEOH Demonstration Project accomplished the objectives set out in the
agreement between the DOE, Air Products, and Eastman Chemical
Company
● Over 103.9 million gallons of methanol was produced with one month
reaching a maximum of 2.5 million gallons
● The addition of catalysts helped with commercial interest and significantly
improved the LPMEOH process
● Developments in the processes for removing trace contaminants in coalderived syngas will extend catalyst life and lead to lower methanol
conversion costs
● Additional reductions in syngas costs from a modern coal gasification
system will increase market opportunities for the LPMEOH process
References
● United States of America. Department of Energy. National Energy Technology
Laboratory. Commercial-Scale Demonstration of the Liquid Phase Methanol
Process. By Robert J. Kirkland, Edward Schmetz, and Robert M. Kornosky.
Washington D.C.: n.p., 2004. Print.
● United States of America. Department of Energy. National Energy Technology
Laboratory. Final Report for the Commercial-Scale Demonstration of the Liquid
Phase Methanol Process. By E. C. Heydorn and R. D. Lilly. Washington D.C.:
n.p., 2003. Print.
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Air Product`s liquid-phase methanol (LPMeOH) process