MHI, NGK to develop membrane dehydration systems for bioethanol and e-methanol

Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI) and NGK Insulators Ltd are to jointly develop two membrane dehydration systems for bioethanol and e-methanol to meet expected demand growth for clean fuels and raw materials.

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The membrane separation system developed for bioethanol will replace the conventional dehydration process, which consumes the most energy in the bioethanol manufacturing process. This replacement is expected to achieve a significant reduction in energy required to produce bioethanol.

The second system will replace the dehydration process in the production of e-methanol, which utilizes hydrogen and CO2 as raw materials. By using a membrane separation system instead, the companies expect to significantly reduce energy consumption used in the manufacture of e-methanol, which is capturing attention as a next-generation clean fuel.

MHI will contribute its expertise delivering methanol plants and other chemical plants to the project, in addition to its technologies for handling methanol and various other chemicals. NGK will contribute its deep knowledge of sub-nano ceramic membrane technology and unique film deposition technology developed in chemical processes and water purification.

Bioethanol is a clean fuel derived from plants, primarily corn and sugarcane, and is widely used as automotive fuel in the United States and Brazil. It is also expected to contribute to the growth of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as one of its main raw materials. E-methanol is gaining attention as a next-generation clean fuel, primarily for marine fuel.