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Tata Steel to set up a pilot plant for methanol

Tata Steel plans to set up a 10-tonnes-per-day pilot plant at its Kalinganagar facility in Odisha to produce methanol using blast furnace flue gases. The success of this pilot plant could pave the way for significant methanol production in India. The project aims to explore the possibility of combining carbon dioxide from steel mill blast furnaces with hydrogen from electrolysers to produce methanol. This will enable Tata Steel to test the feasibility of this process and potentially pave the way for a more sustainable approach to methanol production in the country.

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Need of this development:

Atanu Mukherjee, the CEO of Dastur Energy, which specializes in carbon technologies, including carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), has expressed a very optimistic outlook on methanol’s future. Mukherjee believes that methanol will become the next big thing, much larger than bioethanol.

Dastur Energy has recently been awarded a $7.5 million (₹60 crore) contract from the US Department of Energy for a carbon capture project in Texas. The company is also involved in the Tata Steel pilot methanol plant, indicating its involvement in carbon capture and methanol production technologies.

Rationale behind the methanol plant project:

  • The methanol plant project could help India transition to a methanol economy, which would have significant benefits for the country.
  • Although the methanol plant may not use large quantities of carbon dioxide from power and steel plants, it still has the potential to reduce India’s carbon footprint by replacing traditional fuels.
  • Methanol can be produced at a cost of ₹25 per litre, which is significantly cheaper than the government-fixed price of ₹65.60 per litre for bioethanol.
  • Hydrogen can be produced at a cost of $1.5 per kg through coal gasification, and methanol produced from this hydrogen could be produced at $450 per tonne.
  • Internal combustion engines can handle a 15-25% blend of methanol in petrol and diesel without requiring any modifications.

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