FReSMe project, a major milestone to boost low carbon methanol use in maritime transportation
Thursday, 24 June, 2021

From Residual Steel Gases to Methanol (FReSMe) project, a consortium aimed at the integration of different technologies such as CO2 capture, electrolysis for H2 production, and advanced methanol reactor reusing blast furnace gases has concluded successfully.

Steel production accounts for 6-8% of the global emissions. Primary steel production is a highly efficient process but between 1.6 and 2 tons of CO2 are emitted per ton of steel produced. The European Commission has targeted the steel sector as one of its key priorities for technology research and innovation with the aim of developing efficient and decarbonised industrial processes. FReSMe project builds on the successes from two projects, STEPWISE and MefCO2, to develop scalable and competitive carbon capture and utilisation technology.

After almost 5 years of research and a successful test campaign, the consortium achieved its last major milestone. Low carbon methanol produced from blast furnace gases successfully powered Stena Germanica ship connecting Gothenburg and Kiel on the 22nd of June.

The demonstration coincided with the FReSMe project final event in which the project main results were presented to an audience that included representatives from the European Commission, local authorities from Luleå (Sweden) where the methanol production pilot was conducted and invitees from the Academia, Industry, and general public.

During the pilot operation, 25 tons of low emission methanol were produced out of 570,000 cubic meters of real blast furnace gas coming from a nearby steel mill. The methanol was then distilled in Iceland to meet the tightest fuel quality standards for its use as a marine fuel. This accomplishment opens the door to further scaling up low carbon technologies to produce both steel and methanol with a low climate impact.

Thanks to the European Commission commitment to advance towards greener and more sustainable future, eleven companies joined the FReSMe project consortium with the aim to to reduce the climate impact of the steelmaking process.

Cutting-edge technology

FReSMe concept relies on the STEPWISE technology, developed by TNO, to capture CO2 present in the Blast Furnace gas of a steel mill in a highly energy efficient manner while producing a hydrogen rich stream. Both CO2 and hydrogen are used to produce valuable methanol using Carbon Recycling International’s proprietary technology. FReSMe also uses green hydrogen produced through water electrolysis to maximise CO2 utilisation while any excess CO2 captured can be transported and stored allowing for a deep decarbonisation of steel making.

The technology developed in the FReSMe project is highly scalable and can be deployed in existing steel mills while methanol sales provide a more attractive business case for steel producers. Methanol is a highly versatile chemical with multiple applications and one of its potential applications is as clean marine fuel replacing fossil fuels. Methanol produced using FReSMe technology cleared the last hurdle by powering Stena Germanica ferry connecting Gothenburg in Sweden, to Kiel in Germany

The project started in November 2016 and the pilot plant, located at SWERIM facilities next to SSAB steel mill in Luleå, Sweden, produced 25 ton of methanol from blast furnace gas delivered by SSAB.

Being able to apply cutting edge technology for CO2 capture and methanol production is a milestone in the decarbonisation in hard to abate sectors such as steel production. Methanol represents a big opportunity to reduce fossil fuel use in sectors such as long-distance marine transport where electrification is not feasible. FReSMe creates symbiotic relations between different industrial sectors and contributes to the European Union decarbonisation effort.