Methanex selects Johnson Matthey’s authothermal reforming technology for Geismar 3 plant

By Mary Page Bailey |

Johnson Matthey (JM; London; www.matthey.com) has been awarded the methanol plant license for Methanex Corp.’s Geismar 3 plant, incorporating the world’s largest standalone autothermal reformer (ATR) unit in the methanol marketplace. In mid-July, the Methanex Board of Directors reached a final investment decision to construct a 1.8 million-ton methanol plant in Geismar, Louisiana adjacent to its existing Geismar 1 and Geismar 2 facilities.  Johnson Matthey was awarded the contract to supply the license for the ATR (autothermal reformer) methanol technology flowsheet, including associated basic engineering, proprietary equipment and catalyst supply. Construction on the $1.3–1.4 billion plant will begin later this year with operations targeted for the second half of 2022.

When Geismar 3 operations commence, this will become the eighth Methanex plant in operation to use JM-licensed methanol technology and the second to use a JM ATR, a testament to the operational reliability and flexibility of JM’s portfolio and ATR technology.

“We are delighted to be selected as technology supplier by Methanex yet again, demonstrating our ability to deliver a bespoke flowsheet to suit our customers’ requirements. We look forward to closely supporting the project through the engineering, construction, commissioning and start-up phases and into ongoing operation,” said John Gordon, Managing Director, Johnson Matthey.  

JM’s ATR technology involves reactor where natural gas and oxygen and, optionally, the product from the primary reformer, are mixed in a proprietary device.  The mixed gas combusts and then reforms over JM’s Katalco catalyst bed to provide low methane-containing syngas.  The gas and oxygen are well mixed at the burner and combustion is completed well before the catalyst bed, so the gas is at a very uniform temperature across the ATR and there is no danger of over-heating the catalyst. JM’s ATR burner has no need for cooling to maintain mechanical integrity, and no complex nozzles or swirlers that can become blocked and cause premature failure.  Customers benefit from high methane conversion, low maintenance, and no catalyst movement or significant pressure drop increase. 

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