Why is this research needed?
The iron and steel industry represents the largest energy consuming manufacturing sector in the world with average emissions being around 2 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of steel. This enormous CO2 footprint accounting for 5 to 7 % of anthropogenic CO2 emissions can and must be substantially reduced.
A unique feature of the current steel making processes is the presence of energy containing by-product gases. Blast Furnace Gas (BFG) represents the greatest flow containing around 20 vol% CO2, and a focus of particular attention for CO2 mission reduction. These gases are typically used as a fuel within the plant to produce power or combined heat and power. In an effort to reduce CO2 emissions, there is great interest in using these by-product gases to produce high value chemicals instead of heat and power. Methanol is a particularly attractive candidate product given its suitability as an alternative fuel and being a precursor for other useful chemicals that present a route for permanent sequestration of CO2. Methanol production therefore presents one of the few opportunities for CO2 utilisation where there is sufficient market demand given the diverse range of its applications.
There will be considerable interaction with key industry players including Tata Steel, Johnson Matthey and SWERIM. As members of the project’s advisory board, and potential end-users they will provide industry direction, expertise, materials and industry secondments representing an overall in-kind contribution of approximately £65k.
What is this research investigating?
The aim of this project is to conduct a systematic experimental campaign along with sophisticated process simulation modelling to investigate the catalytic reaction and overall process economics for optimised methanol production from residual steel gases. The effect of feed gas composition relevant to BFG composition on the methanol production process using selected catalysts will be experimentally determined. Catalyst degradation before and after exposure to the reaction environment will be studied using a range of analytical techniques.
What does the research expect to find?
The results of the experimental work along with process and parametric data acquired through consultation with the industrial partners will form the basis for simulation of the catalytic reactions, reactor mathematical models and overall process schematics. This will allow the optimised process design of methanol synthesis from residual steel gas for substantial reduction in CO2 emissions from the iron and steel industries.