Our Approach: Sustainable Energy and Methanol

Methanol is a clean-burning and economically viable alternative energy solution that can provide fuel diversity and reduce emissions. Methanol can be blended directly into or substituted for gasoline or diesel as a high-octane fuel that produces fewer emissions.

Methanol is also used as a clean-burning marine fuel to meet increasingly stringent emissions regulations. It is a key component in the production of biodiesel, a renewable fuel that can be blended with conventional diesel or used on its own to power cars, trucks, buses, farm equipment, and ships.

Methanol is used to produce methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), a gasoline additive that is used as an oxygenate to increase the fuel octane number, as well as dimethyl ether (DME), a clean-burning fuel well suited for diesel engines. The use of methanol to power industrial boilers is a growing market area, and methanol is also being commercialized as a power source for large-scale plants in isolated regions.

When methanol is produced from renewable sources such as municipal waste, industrial waste, biomass, and carbon dioxide emissions, two environmental benefits are achieved: waste is being recycled, and the carbon footprint of methanol production is significantly reduced. Renewable methanol has been demonstrated to be a successful replacement in the fuels market, just as regular methanol is.

Find out more about methanol as a vehicle fuel, as a marine fuel, and as a source of power.

Why this matters

Governments and stakeholders around the world are looking to reduce their dependency on conventional fuels, improve air quality, and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Methanol is clean burning: it improves efficiency and reduces emissions, and can be made from a variety of sources, including renewables.

China leads the world in the use of methanol as an alternative transportation fuel and is a significant market for our business. China’s federal and provincial governments have implemented programs and standards in many provinces to promote methanol in vehicle, marine, and power applications (i.e., industrial boilers). Other regions around the globe are demonstrating interest in using methanol in energy applications, including New Zealand, Canada, Chile, Egypt, Europe, Australia, Israel, and India, as well as Trinidad and Tobago.

New environmental regulations from the International Maritime Organization (IMO, the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security, and environmental performance of international shipping) require ships to decrease emissions of sulphur and nitrogen oxides (SOₓ and NOₓ). Because of its clean-burning qualities, methanol can reduce or eliminate these smog-contributing emissions, which can help improve air quality and related human health issues.

How we are managing it

Successful integration of methanol into the energy sector requires broad industry collaboration to build awareness and mutual sharing of research and development. Our role is to champion and lead thinking in this area.

We focus on growing energy applications in countries around the world to provide economic and environmental benefits while enhancing our social license to operate. We support uses of methanol as energy through methanol as transportation fuel, methanol for power generation, and renewable methanol.

Our Approach: Methanol as Marine Fuel

Methanol is increasingly being used globally as a clean-burning fuel to meet increasingly stringent emissions regulations. As a leader in supporting the commercialization of methanol as a marine fuel, we invest in new sustainable technology for our shipping fleet and participate in numerous initiatives involving methanol as a clean-burning marine fuel.

We partner with engine manufacturers (MAN Diesel and Wartsila), Stena Line, and our ship owners (Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, NYK Bulkship Asia, Iino Kaiun Kaisha, Koyo Kaiun, KSS Line, Marinvest, Westfal-Larsen and U-Ships) to develop efficient methanol dual-fuel engines. Waterfront Shipping, a wholly owned subsidiary of Methanex, runs a fleet that includes seven methanol-fueled ships. Four more ocean-going vessels powered by methanol will join the fleet in 2019, and other engine manufacturers and stakeholders are working on projects to commercialize methanol as a marine fuel.

Our Approach: Methanol as Vehicle Fuel

Around the world, methanol has emerged as a clean, sustainable transportation fuel alternative for the future, whether used in a blended application with gasoline, as a diesel substitute, in high-proportion blends in flex-fuel vehicles, or as a dedicated fuel on its own.

With support from the Methanol Institute, the global trade association for the methanol industry, we continue to be actively involved in the development of regulations, standards, and pilot projects for methanol as vehicle fuel. We also continue to participate in national and international initiatives to promote methanol as a clean fuel and advocate for its safe handling.

In China, increasingly stringent air quality standards are supporting the adoption of methanol as a clean-burning vehicle fuel. Methanol fuel significantly reduces air pollutants when used in place of gasoline or diesel. Methanex has been working with automobile manufacturer Geely and other partners in China to support the growth of M100 (100% methanol) for taxis in this country.

Our Approach: Methanol as Power Source

Over the last few years, methanol has been increasingly used as a clean-burning fuel to power industrial boilers used for heat generation. To ensure safe and sustainable development of this market, we are involved in demonstration projects involving industrial boilers in China and in the development of technical and safety standards in this region.

Our Approach: Renewable Methanol

Renewable methanol can be produced from municipal waste, industrial waste, biomass, and carbon dioxide (CO₂). When methanol is manufactured using waste carbon dioxide, the carbon footprint of the production process is significantly reduced.

We are a key shareholder in Carbon Recycling International (CRI), with board representation. A privately held company based in Iceland, CRI operates a green methanol plant that converts renewable energy and recycled CO₂ emissions (from a nearby geothermal plant) to renewable methanol. CRI markets its renewable methanol in Europe under the registered brand name Vulcanol. Vulcanol is certified by the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification system (ISCC) as an advanced, renewable ultra-low-carbon transport fuel with at least 90% fewer CO₂ emissions than conventional fuels.