Iceland’s Carbon Recycling Sees Rising Demand for Renewable Fuel

Carbon Recycling International ehf, which this month sold its first renewable methanol fuel, expects to boost production by a 100-fold over the next five years to capture European demand.

The company now produces 1.5 million liters and has the capacity to produce about 5 million liters. It plans to boost that to 150 million liters over the next five years, Benedikt Stefansson, director of business development at the Reykjavik-based company, said in a telephone interview.

The company this month sold Iceland’s first shipment of so-called Vulcanol, a brand name, to Dutch oil company Argos. The fuel is produced by capturing carbon dioxide from a geothermal power plant on the the southwest part of the Atlantic island.

“We’ve signed a contract to sell a large share of our capacity to Argos, over 1 million liters of Vulcanol per year,” Stefansson said. “The company’s production process and fuel offer a sustainable method to meet the objectives of the European Commission to substitute 10 percent of fossil fuel in the transport sector by 2020.”

CRI’s plant produces renewable methanol by harnessing energy and carbon dioxide emissions of a nearby geothermal plant. The carbon dioxide is converted and recycled to produce liquid fuel. The production can then be used to blend in with gasoline for any car and as a feedstock in the production of other fuels.

“Our recycling process is cost-effective, reduces greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere and conserves natural resources,” said Stefansson. “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.”

According to his estimates the current market for renewable transport fuels in Europe is about 5 percent of the total energy used by automobiles.

“That ratio is set to double before the end of this decade,” said Stefansson. “If we manage to get the production up to 150 million liters, Iceland will be exporting the equivalent of a third of the fuel consumed by domestic automobiles.”

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