China has successfully built the first plant in the world for ethanol production from coal, and has been in operation stably for over two months, Chinese Academy of Sciences said on March 17th.
The plant was created by Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum Group, and put into production in January with capacity of 100,000 metric tons of anhydrous ethanol per year. Based on this plant, a factory with capacity of 1000,000 metric tons per year would be built by 2020, said LIU Zhongmin, the deputy director of the institute.
The total amount of ethanol in China was 7 million metric tons in 2015, and could not satisfy the needs of China’s industrial and energy. Furthermore, only one third of ethanol, about 2.50 million metric tons of ethanol, was used for fuel ethanol. At the same time, the total amount of ethanol in the world was about 9200 metric tons in 2015.
The World’s First Plant for Ethanol Production From Coal Successfully Put Into Operation (Image by LIU Wansheng)
At present, most of ethanol in the world was produced by fermentation method with food as raw material, such as corn in USA and sugarcane in Brazil. But this method is not suitable for china because of its massive population and limited arable land. In view of China's abundant coal resources, it is feasible to develop ethanol synthesize technology form coal, which would safeguard the energy and food security of china.
As we all know that ethanol is a green fuel and can be used for versatile as gasoline additives. The gasoline with 10% ethanol could effectively reduce about 1/3 pollutant emission. It is an environmentally friendly fuel.
For decades, scientists around the world have been studying how to synthesize ethanol from fossil fuel, coal, but cannot overcome it. The method by methanol, dimethyl ether and methyl acetate to produce ethanol is an Innovative way, and can gain anhydrous ethanol directly with cheap catalysts. (Text by ZHU Wenliang and Image by LIU Wansheng)
Dr. LU Xinyi
Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences,
457 Zhongshan Road, Dalian, 116023, China,