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| By Gerald Ondrey

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CO2 TO METHANOL

Last December, Sumitomo Chemical Co, Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan; www.sumitomo-chem.co.jp) started operating a pilot facility for producing methanol from CO2 at its Ehime Works, located in Niihama City, Ehime Prefecture, Japan. The company aims to complete the demonstration of this technology by 2028, as well as start commercial production using the new process, and license the technology to other companies in the 2030s. The facility was built with the support of the Green Innovation Fund of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization.

Conventional CO2-to-methanol processes have a low yield, due to the reversible nature of the reaction, as well as catalyst degradation caused by byproduct water. Sumitomo Chemical has resolved these issues through joint development with professor Koji Omata of Shimane University Interdisciplinary Faculty of Science and Engineering, leveraging the internal condensation reactor (ICR), a technology that Professor Omata has been developing. The ICR enables the condensation and separation of methanol and water within the reactor. This helps to improve yield, downsize equipment and achieve higher energy efficiency, while it is also expected to prevent catalyst degradation, the company says.

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