Methanol is used directly as a fuel or fuel additive in significant markets, particularly China. However, methanol is also important as a feedstock for production of gasoline in the so-called methanol to gasoline (MTG) process, which represents a competing technology to the traditional FT synthesis approach for making gasoline. This has been demonstrated in several locations and is being proposed for new facilities.
Instead of the traditional FT technology to convert syngas to liquids to be further refined into end products such as gasoline, this process follows a methanol synthesis unit with a methanol to gasoline synthesis process that yields gasoline very close the final fuel specifications, requiring minimal end processing. Figure 1 shows the preferred fluidized bed MTG process. This technology was developed and is being marketed by ExxonMobil. As of 2021, ExxonMobil noted that there is no commercial scale fluid bed MTG unit yet, but that ongoing pilot plant experience have established the basis for prospective commercial scale units. ExxonMobil and Uhde have proposed such a commercial operation in West Virginia; see below for further discussion.
Facilities in Planning/Development/Construction Stages
Transgas Development Systems, Roanoke, WV
Transgas Development Systems (TGDS) have stated plans to build a $3 billion facility in Mingo County, WV, known as the Adams Fork Plant. The facility would use 7,500 tons per year of Appalachian coal to create nearly 1 billion gallons of gasoline and liquid fuels annually. TGDS has signed a licensing agreement with Uhde Corporation of America to use the proprietary PRENFLO™ technology for coal gasification. Syngas produced would be converted to methanol, and gasoline synthesized via the ExxonMobil MTG technology.
DKRW Advanced Fuels, Medicine Bow, WYThe planned $2 billion DKRW Advanced Fuels plant near Medicine Bow in southern Wyoming would have used the MTG technology, but this project has essentially stalled at the planning stage and may have been discontinued.