This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Methanol – An update on the Indian scenario
IntroductIon ethanol (CH3OH), also known as methyl alcohol, wood alcohol, wood naphtha or wood spirit, is the simplest alcohol, and is a light, volatile, colorless, flammable liquid with a distinctive odor very similar to, but slightly sweeter than, ethanol (drinking alcohol). At room temperature, it is a polar liquid, and is used as an antifreeze, solvent, fuel and as a denaturant for ethanol. The main applications for methanol are formaldehyde (used in construction and wooden boarding), acetic acid, MTBE (fuel component) and more recently as an ester group in the production of bio-diesel. Globally, the demand is expected to grow exponentially, not only caused by a growing internal market of the traditional applications, but accelerated by new applications, such as direct blending (with gasoline), methanol-to-olefins (MTO) (e.g. propylene) and dimethyl ether (DME). Methanol can also be used to produce gasoline. The use of methanol as a motor fuel received attention during the oil crises of the 1970s due to its availability, low
cost and environmental benefits. By the mid-1990s, over 20,000 methanol flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), capable of operating on methanol or gasoline, were introduced in the US. In addition, low levels of methanol were blended in gasoline fuels sold in Europe during much of the 1980s and early-1990s. Automakers stopped building methanol FFVs by the late-1990s, switching their attention to ethanol-fueled vehicles. While the methanol FFV program was a technical success, rising methanol pricing in the mid- to late-1990s during a period of slumping gasoline pump prices diminished the interest in methanol fuels. Additionally, methanol is highly corrosive to rubber and many synthetic polymers used in the automotive industry, whereas ethanol is not.
Manufacturing process From the early 1800s until the mid1920s, the distillation of wood to make ‘wood alcohol’ was the major source of methanol. According to some statistics, methanol production reached 30,000-tonnes in 1923, consuming some 3-mt of wood feedstock. However, this inefficient method of methanol production was quickly replaced by large scale processes based on hydrogen-carbon oxide mixtures introduced in the 1920s. A major breakthrough came in the early 1970s with the development of low pressure processes replacing the high pressure route. Today, nearly all production is based on these processes consuming natural gas, naphtha or refinery light gas, with a shift in production to those countries with low cost natural gas. Synthesis gas, a mixture of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen, is first produced in a reformer. This is carried out by passing a mixture of the hydrocarbon feedstock and steam through a heated tubular reformer. The ratio of hydrogen and carbon in the syngas may need to be adjusted by purgtable 2 trends in production of methanol Year Production [tonnes] 2004-05 392,200 2005-06 386,760 2006-07 396,230 2007-08 351,730 2008-09 237,660 2009-10 333,260 2010-11 383,650
Source: Ministry of Chemicals
table 1 capacity for methanol in India units Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilisers Ltd. Deepak Fertilisers & Petrochemicals Ltd. Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilisers Ltd. Assam Petrochemicals Ltd. National Fertilisers Ltd. total
Chemical Weekly November 15, 2011
Location Gujarat Maharashtra Maharashtra Assam Punjab
capacity [tpa] 238,100 100,000 72,600 33,000 22,110 465,810
Share [%] 51.11 21.46 15.58 7.11 4.74 100.00
Deepak Fertilisers & 65.81 0 5. Mn] 527.99 14. Plant designers are developing very large capacity plants in the 500010.14 10.759 30.65 5.046 214 25. Developments here include the use of autothermal reforming.287 9.578 1.578 8.80 3.951 3.49 1.19 19.094.287 4.197.783 1.00 150.71 0 2. which uses a slurry of copper catalyst in an inert paraffinic liquid. Air Products has developed a liquid phase methanol converter.503. The crude methanol is recovered and purified by distillation.354 31.76 53.441 0.09 2. 2010-11 126.67 0 9.499 980 46.058.00 46.243 12.264 45. Two approaches are being taken: some are pursuing pure oxygen addition resulting in total autothermal reforming.902 40.439 0.700 19.88 5.336 1.882 16.500 0.91 200 .00 40.95 0 3.708 41.41 10. Assam Petrochemicals Ltd.143.42 139 190 20.370.93 305.023 46.865 822. The methanol synthesis takes place in the presence of copperbased catalysts at 250-260°C.199 416.910 271.02 2.040 National Fertilisers Ltd.000 0.746 Fertilisers Ltd. Chemical Weekly November 15.84 118 399 11.234 91.059 81.257 383.424 8.511 Fertilisers Ltd. Tennessee.51 114.647 81.247 813.000-tpd (tonnes per day) range that could produce low-cost methanol for fuel uses and light olefins production when based on inexpensive natural gas.000 15.888 65.05 822.52 5.61 5.00 80.Special Report table 3 unitwise production and sales of methanol Production Sales units 2009-10 2010-11 2009-10 Gujarat Narmada Valley 187. others are taking the non-oxygen route with compact reforming and low pressure methanol synthesis.994 10.421 11.544 111.330.703 Petrochemicals Ltd.82 57. 2011 country Saudi Arabia Iran Oman Libya Malaysia Cote d’ivoire China Singapore Russia South Africa Qatar UAE USA Germany Others total Source: DGCI&S table 5 Imports of methanol by source country Quantity [tonnes] Values [rs.19 2.227 1373 85 643 876 The syngas is cooled and then compressed before being fed to the methanol converter.07 21. in which oxygen is mixed with the steam. 33.233 9.08 8.669 516 131 total 333.353.648 212. Rashtriya Chemicals & 44.004 5.131 ing excess hydrogen or adding carbon dioxide. A demonstration plant has been integrated into Eastman Chemical’s coal gasification facility at Kingsport.994.59 120 4.248 813. where it obtains its syngas feedstock.196 549 21.233 73 788.743 3. Mn] [tons] [rs.000 44 264. 2.815 1. either alone or in combination with a primary reformer.103 68. Mn] 2009-10 2010-11 2009-10 2010-11 384.264 15.079 202.075 Years 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 Source: DGCI&S table 4 trends in imports and exports of methanol Imports Exports Quantity Value Quantity Value [tons] [rs.
5% of total consumption. with less than 5% in the northern region and 7% in the eastern region.810-tpa. in fact.230 351.000-tonnes to 390. 95% of the imports are being sourced from three countries: Saudi Arab (51%).280 1.650 Imports 527. (APL) with 7 per cent. (DFPCL) with 21% and Assam Petrochemicals Ltd.000-tonnes.810 1. constituting only around 3-3.000 800 600 400 200 0 consumption Production.000-tonnes 201 table 7 Methanol consumption pattern and growth uses Formaldehyde Pharmaceuticals Oxygenates Acetic acid Alkyl amines Dimethyl sulphate Agrochemicals Chloromethanes Solvents/others total Share [%] 48 21 9 5 4 3 3 4 3 100 Growth rate [%] 7 8.Special Report table 6 Apparent consumption of methanol in India Year 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 Production 396. Exports are in the region of 40. Iran (33%) and Oman (11%).000-tonnes.860 822.108. however. a by-product in biodiesel production.840 1. Gujarat Narmada Ferti- Chemical Weekly November 15. Imports.230 liser Company (GNFC) in Bharuch (Gujarat) is the biggest player with 51% of the total capacity.000-tonnes indicating a capacity utilization of 82%. In 2008-09.730 237. registering a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.45% during the last five years.230 31. consumption and consumption pattern Consumption of methanol in India has grown from 922.260 45.660 333. In fact. Small quantities of methanol are also exported from India.820 1.260 383.156. due to lower domestic production.610 1.109.000-tonnes.200 1.000-tonnes in 2010-11.000-tonnes in 2006-07 to 813.000-tonnes to 45. imports & consumption of methanol in India Imports have grown from 527. During 2008-09. imports were significantly higher at 1.250 813.058-mt.260 1. The production of methanol in 2010-11 was 383. production was even lower at 237.293. Much of this capacity (88%) is in the western region.420 Exports 1. 2011 . followed by Deepak Fertilisers & Petrochemicals Ltd.900 40.280 788.058.5 4 9 8 5 8 8 6 The Dutch-based biomethanol producer BioMCN has developed a process to make biomethanol from glycerine. the status of the Indian industry There are five producers of methanol in India with a total capacity of 465.400 Kilotonnes 1. local production of methanol over the period of last seven years has been hovering between 350. constitute around 70% of total consumption. 2006-07 Production 2007-08 2008-09 Imports 2009-10 2010-11 [tonnes] consumption 922. India has to depend on imports to meet its requirements.740 3. Import and export Due to the local demand exceeding supply.
However. Chemical Weekly November 15.5 2.41 0. using crude palm oil (CPO) as the main raw material are small and the production is slated for exports. as well as a solvent high 10% In the case of gasoline blending with methanol. there is no policy on the horizon. In the case of biodiesel. and the focus. There is a need for world scale plant-based on low cost natural gas availability.5-trimethoxybenzoic acid methyl ester D(+) Acid DICMIC chloride Glycine N-Methly-4-piperidinol Methanol requirement 1.5 2.2 4.34 1.156-mt in 2010-11. The balance is shared between oxygenates. and none expected due to low cost natural gas based methanol available in the country.85 17. as pointed out earlier.5 drug/Intermediate Naproxen sodium Nordion Omeprazole Phenylbutazone Pseudoephedrine base Pyrozinamide Sulphamethoxazole Terfenadine Trimethoprim CMIC chloride 7-ADCA 3. the pharma sector accounts for 19%. The potential demand for methanol from this sector after about years could be as as 0.5 1 4.9 2. registering a CARG of 5.71 2 5 1.8 1.08 3 2.58 5. chloromethanes and other uses.13-mt annually. With no new capacities announced. India will have to continue depending heavily on imports. or on alternate low value hydrocarbons such as petroleum coke gasification.12 1.8%. The demand does not take into account the potential demand that may arise from the biodiesel and fuel blending sectors. at an average growth rate of 6% per annum. India has a large pharmaceuticals industry that is growing at over 11% per annum.Special Report table 8 Some drugs and intermediates that use methanol drug/Intermediate Albendazole Amoxycillin trihydrate Cefadroxil Cefalexin monohydrate Chloramphenicol Diloxamide furoate Dilitiazem HCl DL-Naproxen Domoperidone Enrofloxacin Ethambutol HCl Fenbendazole Isoniazid Isoxamine Mebendazole Methyl dopa Methanol requirement 12 1.5 0.25 0.235-mt. where methanol is used in making bulk drugs and intermediates. which together account for 67% of the total methanol consumed in the country. a ‘National Mission’ has been initiated based on jatropha/ non-food plantations on waste lands and the first crops are expected after 1-2 years.16 5.62 6 15. The major growth drivers for formaldehyde markets are: growth of resins industry driven by growth in wood panels.5-mt annually. and growth in chemical intermediates. Demand for formal202 dehyde is estimated at 1.25 1.55-mt.34 5 3.5 in making a number of formulations. alkylamines. Methanol requirement is in kgs per 1-kg of the drug/intermediate in 2006-07 to 1. a potential demand based on blending 20% of gasoline output with 15% of methanol could be around 0. The next important end-use sector is the pharmaceuticals industry. growing at around 7% per annum. is on ethanol blending. Current capacities for biodiesel. 2011 . based on blending. strong growth in construction and housing industry.15 3. While formaldehyde alone accounts for 48%. Future demand Demand for methanol five years hence is projected to grow to 1.000-tonnes.75 1. The total consumption of methanol by this end-use is 555. Formaldehyde and pharmaceuticals (bulk drugs and intermediates) are the two important end-use segments.94 0. The formaldehyde market is highly fragmented in India with 24 medium-sized producers and several small producers spread across the country.4.94 3. acetic acid.