By Santhosh V. Perumal/Business Reporter

Two months ahead of schedule, Qatar launched its $80mn carbon dioxide recovery (CDR) plant, aimed not only at enhancing the productive efficiency of methanol, but also ensuring cleaner environment.

The plant, set up by Qatar Fuel Additives (Qafac) - an Industries Qatar subsidiary that aims to be the top five world producers of methanol, its high value derivatives and butane sub products by 2020 - was officially launched in the presence of HE the Minister of Energy and Industry Dr Mohamed bin Saleh al-Sada; HE the Minister of Environment Ahmed Amer Mohamed al-Humaidi and other dignitaries.

The project will capture 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide per day - which otherwise, would have been emitted - from its methanol reformer stack and will be injected back into the existing process to enhance the production capacity of methanol.

Methanol is a key chemical intermediate and is becoming increasingly important in the fuels sector and within the petrochemical industry. It is used as a raw material for the manufacturing of solvents, formaldehyde, methyl halide, methyl amine, acetic acid, ethyl alcohol, acetic anhydride, DME and MTBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether).

The daily 500 tonnes capture is equivalent to carbon dioxide absorbed by 4.2mn trees in ten years and that emitted by 32mn vehicles per year. The CDR plant at Mesaieed will meet a two-pronged Qafac objective of reducing emissions and stepping up methanol production.

“The harsh reality is that the environment is facing severe degradation. The climate is changing as a result of high greenhouse gas emissions and this threatens the wellbeing of the environment and the future generation. Hence, it is critical that organisations, big and small, put sustainability at the forefront of their agenda,” Qafac chairman Hamad Rashid al-Mohannadi said.

“After conducting a thorough feasibility study to examine the technical and economical benefits of the project, a cost analysis showed the project had definitely helped increase our production and profit,” according to Qafac CEO Nasser Jeham al-Kuwari.

Qafac chief operating officer Khalid Mubarak Rashid al-Hitmi said the recovery unit has been constructed under licence from MHI (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Japan) with specific and novel application of carbon dioxide recovery focused to optimise methanol production.

The CDR plant comprises flue gas pre-treatment, carbon dioxide absorption, solvent generation and carbon dioxide compression.

Overall, since operations are designed to produce 982,350 tonnes per annum of methanol and 610,000 tonnes per annum of MTBE, the Qafac plant will be one of the world’s largest commercial-scale carbon dioxide capture facilities.

Established in 1991, Qafac is a joint venture between Industries Qatar (50%), OPIC Middle East Corp (20%), and International Octane and LCY Middle East Corp (15% each). The Company commenced operations in 1999.

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