Methanol synthesis technology was first commercialized in 1923, and is much older than round furnace steam reformers and pressure swing adsorption. Methanol plant technology has greatly-evolved over the years, chiefly to expand maximum achievable plant size and optimize costs at world scale. Consequently, demand for methanol plants at the small scale compatible with round furnace steam reformers and modularized design and construction (< 250 tonnes/day) has been very low compared to demand for hydrogen plants and PSA units. The shale gas revolution has drastically reduced the cost of natural gas, especially in the Americas, and client interest has increased in smaller plants to displace imported product or to monetize otherwise stranded gas.
Headwaters offers a traditional methanol flowsheet with staged adiabatic reaction and thermal quench, and two column distillation. Our process flowsheet is optimized for low pressure operation, which maximizes the key benefits of modern copper catalyst technology, high catalyst activity and low production of impurities. Although our process uses the most proven process architecture and catalysts in the world, it has key features specifically to reduce capital cost, complexity and operating cost in the small capacity range where our modular plant engineering skills offer the most value to clients.
· A single train of compression equipment driven entirely using byproduct steam from process waste heat – not costly electricity
· Low pressure operation for both the process and the waste heat steam system
· All equipment of solid alloy or properly coated to prevent formation of toxic metal carbonyl impurities
· Completely modularized for rapid execution