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The University of Twente partnered up with Bright Renewables and HyGear to construct the first e-methanol plant in the Benelux. E-methanol is a sustainable alternative to conventional fuels for heavy-duty transport, including ships and aviation. Project TANDEM (Towards Acceleration and Demonstration of E-Methanol) will run for four years and is set to produce the first batch of renewable methanol by the third quarter of 2025.

The collaboration received a €4 million subsidy, half of the total project investment amount. The project’s total funding comes from a GroenVermogenNL subsidy, underpinned by the Nationaal Groeifonds. Martin Bos, R&D Manager at HoSt Group – both HyGear and Bright are part of it – highlighted the project’s emphasis on process intensification to enhance efficiency and reduce overall costs.

E-methanol production and grid stability

Bright Renewables‘ development of a methanol reactor technology, alongside HyGear‘s contribution of a 1.25MW electrolyzer using Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) technology, is at the heart of this initiative. This technology is crucial for hydrogen production, which is then combined with CO2 from biological origin to produce E-methanol.

A significant advantage of the E-Methanol system is its capacity to reduce grid congestion by storing excess renewable electricity. The production facility, expected to produce 500 tons per year of e-methanol, will utilize captured CO2 and locally produced solar and wind power. Wim Brilman, a professor at the University of Twente, emphasizes the importance of dynamic operation, which allows the system to adjust to fluctuating renewable energy availability, thereby maximizing the efficiency of local solar and wind farms.

Future goals and sustainable impacts

The project not only aligns with the Netherlands’ sustainability goals but also sets a precedent for future green projects. By 2030, it is projected that 2,1 Megatons of biogenic CO2 will be available in the Netherlands for such sustainable practices. The decentralized production approach enhances efficiency and sustainability by reducing transportation needs and operating directly at or near end-user sites.