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China makes major breakthrough in converting solar energy to liquid fuel
The instability of electricity production from renewable sources requires efficient technologies to accumulate energy reserves. It is believed that the best option for this would be the conversion of electricity into ecological fuel. All developed and developing countries of the world are working on this. A breakthrough in this direction was reported by the Chinese, who successfully completed a project lasting twenty years.
China’s secret plant to extract liquid methanol from electricity from solar farms. Image source: CCTV
Mainland China’s main broadcaster, CCTV, reports on the completion of a solar-to-liquid fuel project. Using electricity from photocells, it was possible to synthesize a liquid product with a methanol content of 99.5%. Work on this project in China began in 2021 and by January 2021, in general, they had completed development and created an experimental installation.
It is reported that on an industrial scale, one unit can produce 1,500 tons of methanol per year, while simultaneously processing 2,000 tons of CO2. Methanol is obtained in the process of synthesis from carbon monoxide and hydrogen on a catalyst. For this, hydrogen is obtained in the process of electrolysis of water, which requires energy, in particular, from sunlight. Each ton of hydrogen produced, according to the source, is equivalent to storing energy in the amount of 33 MWh (citing this data, the source speaks of hydrogen, not methanol).
If China can start mass production of liquid methanol, then it will significantly offset CO2 emissions, and this country accounts for 29% of this greenhouse gas emissions. Using methanol instead of coal as fuel will also help reduce PM 2.5 (80% or more) and NOx emissions (90% or more). Why methanol, not hydrogen? China annually produces up to 80 million tons of methanol, which also goes to the chemical industry. Perhaps that’s why.