In Iceland, volcanic activity powers the island nation's geothermal energy industry. Now it's also helping to create renewable fuel.
Rekyavik-based Carbon Recycling International (CRI) produces liquid methanol by capturing and recycling carbon dioxide from a geothermal power plant on the the southwest part of the country. The first commercial shipment of the fuel, sold under the Vulcanol brand name, took place early in 2013. It can be used to power vehicles, as feedstock to produce other fuels, or to make building products like plywood and paint.
“Our recycling process is cost-effective, reduces greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere and conserves natural resources,” said Benedikt Stefansson, CRI's director of business development. “About 25 billion liters of methanol are consumed as fuel in the world annually, but only a tiny fraction of this methanol is from renewable sources.”
Methanol, which burns cleaner than most fuels, can be produced cheaply from fossil fuels. "But methanol is also emerging as the most versatile green fuel source on the planet," said KC Chan, CEO and co-founder of CRI. "It can be made from recycled CO2, biomethane, or solid waste biomass, and even undifferentiated municipal waste.”
Photo: Carbon Recycling International's methanol plant near Svartsengi, Iceland. (via CRI)