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State of California Approves DME for Legal Use as a... MI Member Company Oberon Fuels, Inc., the first company to produce fuel-grade dimethyl ether (DME) in North America, announced today that DME is now approved for use as vehicle fuel in the state of California....

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Methanol Fueled Stena Germanica Completes Fire Safety... The world's first ship to run on methanol will soon sail international waters after the fire risk assessment by SP Fire Research was approved. Methanol has long been handled with traditional fire protection...

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MI Hires Chris Chatterton as Singapore-based COO The Methanol Institute (MI) has hired Christopher Chatterton to serve as its Chief Operating Officer based in MI's Singapore headquarters. Mr. Chatterton has more than 20 years of professional experience...

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Methanex Starts Production at Geismar Plant MI member company Methanex, the world's largest methanol producer, has announced that on January 24th, 2015, the company successfully produced the first methanol from its new 1.0 million tonne plant in...

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MethaShip Project Launched to Study Methanol Fueled... A new project involving Lloyd's Register (LR), German shipyard Meyer Werft and German shipbuilder FlensburgerFlensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) and funded by the German government will assess the...

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State of California Approves DME for Legal Use as a Vehicle Fuel

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Oberon LogoMI Member Company Oberon Fuels, Inc., the first company to produce fuel-grade dimethyl ether (DME) in North America, announced today that DME is now approved for use as vehicle fuel in the state of California. This latest approval builds on earlier approvals and ongoing work by other regulatory bodies, including the US Environmental Protection Agency, the California Air Resources Board, and ASTM International, and will help accelerate commercial adoption of this low carbon fuel.

“The use of fuels like DME will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improve air quality and lead to a positive impact on California and the environment,” said Kristin Macey, director of the Division of Measurement Standards at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which issued the latest approval of DME fuel.

DME is a clean-burning, non-toxic fuel that can be derived from renewable sources. Its high cetane number and quiet combustion, as well as its inexpensive propane-like fueling system, make it an excellent, inexpensive diesel alternative.

“The State of California’s approval builds upon the growing body of certifications that demonstrate DME is a low carbon fuel that meets both industry standards for performance and environmental standards for compliance,” said Rebecca Boudreaux, Ph.D., president of Oberon Fuels. “These approvals are a key step in increasing confidence among distributors, engine manufacturers and fleet owners that DME is ready for commercial markets, which will benefit Oberon as we build out a global supply of DME fuel.”

The State of California’s legalization of DME for use as vehicle fuel is the latest milestone for the growing DME industry. Earlier this month, the California Air Resources Board published their Multimedia Assessment Tier 1 report on DME, which evaluates publicly available data on the effect of DME on air, soil, and water.

Last August, the EPA approved biogas-based DME for inclusion under the Renewable Fuel Standard and made it eligible for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) credits based on EPA findings that the fuel achieves a 68 percent reduction in greenhouse gases.

In February 2014, ASTM International, a globally recognized organization that develops technical standards, released a specification for DME as a fuel. ASTM D7901 provides guidance for fuel producers, engine and component suppliers, and infrastructure developers on DME purity, testing, safety, and handling.  More information can be found here

Methanol Fueled Stena Germanica Completes Fire Safety Assessments

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stena-germanica-3-dd702f10-78a4-4c5d-8700-9db2b349a05aThe world’s first ship to run on methanol will soon sail international waters after the fire risk assessment by SP Fire Research was approved. Methanol has long been handled with traditional fire protection in cargo pump-rooms on tankers, but a deeper understanding of the fuel called for a new approach to design fire safety.

The fire risk assessment, based on SOLAS regulation 17 “Alternative design and arrangements, was conducted as part of the conversion project involving Stena, classification society Lloyd’s Register, Wärtsilä and ship designer ScandiNaos.

The vessel’s new fire safety design was approved by the Swedish flag last month, with fire protection installations commencing at the end of the month. According to SP, Stena believes that by managing each introduced fire hazard, safety has been not only maintained but improved during the conversion for methanol.

“The findings in this project and planed future research will facilitate for safer conversions to alternative and more environmentally friendly ship fuels,” said Franz Evegren, fire researcher, SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden.

Stena opted to convert Germanica to methanol in order to meet emission requirements in the Baltic Sea and avoid exhaust treatment. The fuel is easier to transport and handle than LNG as it is liquid at room temperature.  More information can be found here

MI Hires Chris Chatterton as Singapore-based COO

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Christopher ChattertonThe Methanol Institute (MI) has hired Christopher Chatterton to serve as its Chief Operating Officer based in MI’s Singapore headquarters.

Mr. Chatterton has more than 20 years of professional experience as a C-level director of companies located in Ukraine, Singapore, Russia, and Kazakhstan.  He has particular expertise in creating and developing new operations within the energy, bio-fuels, and agricultural sectors.  He has led efforts to develop crude in Western Siberia, traded palm oil from South East Asia to the UK and Netherlands for biodiesel production, pioneered the privatization of Russia’s power generation market, and led acquisitions for petrol station networks as well as renewable energy technologies including fuels cells and heat pumps.
Mr. Chatterton’s career includes having served as regional CEO for D1 Oils PLC Asia Pacific based in Singapore.  In this capacity, he oversaw the company’s operations in eight markets in China and Southeast Asia.  He managed 12 direct and 50 indirect staff, and more than 1,000 contractors and was instrumental in setting up a global joint venture and securing two additional financial offerings totaling US$52 million.

 

During the interview process, Mr. Chatterton demonstrated an excellent understanding of global energy and petrochemical industry dynamics.  He also has an entrepreneurial approach to business development that will be well suited to MI’s efforts to expand methanol markets and membership, particularly in the Asia Pacific, Central Asia and Middle East regions.  Mr. Chatterton looks to have a management style that is well-suited to a small trade association like MI.
Chris Chatterton will be starting with MI on Monday 16 February in the Singapore office, and is planning to attend the MI Board of Directors meeting in San Antonio on Wednesday 1 April.   We are very pleased to welcome Chris to the MI team!

Methanex Starts Production at Geismar Plant

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Methanex Logo New AgilityMI member company Methanex, the world’s largest methanol producer, has announced that on January 24th, 2015, the company successfully produced the first methanol from its new 1.0 million tonne plant in Geismar, Louisiana. The plant was relocated from the Company’s production site in Punta Arenas, Chile.

John Floren, President and CEO of Methanex commented, “We are pleased to announce that our Geismar 1 plant has successfully started up on schedule and is producing methanol. We expect the plant to ramp up to full production rates over the coming weeks. This accomplishment marks another key milestone in our 2013 commitment to grow our operating capacity by approximately three million tonnes over three years, and it will support our continued growth and strategic focus on global methanol leadership. We continue to make excellent progress on the construction of our one million tonne Geismar 2 plant, and remain on target for methanol production from that facility in late Q1 2016.”

Mr. Floren added, “Our team has done an excellent job of keeping this complex undertaking of relocating two plants from Chile to Louisiana on schedule. The Responsible Care and safety performance during the different phases of the project has also been outstanding, showing that excellent results can be achieved with commitment and dedication. This project clearly demonstrates ‘The Power of Agility™’ within our organization. A sincere thanks to all of the team members throughout the organization who have worked so hard to achieve this important milestone.”  More information can be found here.

MethaShip Project Launched to Study Methanol Fueled Ships

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Metha ShipA new project involving Lloyd’s Register (LR), German shipyard Meyer Werft and German shipbuilder FlensburgerFlensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) and funded by the German government will assess the feasibility of building new methanol-powered vessels.

Two designs, one for a cruise ship, and one for a ro-pax ferry will be developed during the three year project.

LR’s Project Manager, Dirk Schroeder said “I believe methanol has great potential as a fuel for ships.  While LNG has been widely promoted as the fuel-efficient alternative for shipowners and operators seeking low-emission alternatives to heavy fuel oil (HFO), recent research into methanol-as-a-fuel has revealed a number of benefits.  The design of ships’ operating systems for using methanol as a fuel is similar to existing fuel systems.”

The project will also focus on bunkering.  “We will study options for bunkering methanol and canvass port authorities’ attitudes to the fuel to help identify weaknesses in the logistics chain” said Schroeder.  More information can be found on page 21 of LR’s Horizons magazine here.

PUMP the Movie Available Now in the iTunes Store

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Social (E)PUMP, produced by MI member Fuel Freedom Foundation, is an inspiring, eye-opening documentary that tells the story of America’s oil addiction. From its corporate conspiracy beginnings to its current monopoly today, Pump explains clearly and simply how we can end it and finally win choice at the pump, saving Americans thousands of dollars every year and creating millions of new jobs.

PUMP is available now on iTunes. Rent or download it today here

RFS Faces Challenges as US EPA Seeks to Increase Low-Carbon Biofuels

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RFSmandateThe US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) flagship Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program faces considerable challenges in 2015 as the Administration looks to finalize long-overdue blend mandates that could begin to balance the production of low-carbon cellulosic and advanced biofuels with more conventional corn-based ethanol.
For example, the corn sector is likely to oppose any effort that reduces their blending requirements relative to other fuel sources while the oil industry, which is urging Congress to repeal the program, is already charging that EPA’s approval of some low-carbon fuels is at odds with statutory requirements.
Under the RFS, EPA sets annual fuel production targets for various renewable fuels that emit fewer greenhouse gases (GHGs) than conventional gasoline. Cellulosic and advanced biofuels have the lowest carbon footprint of the fuels required to comply, with cellulosic generally having to emit 60% fewer GHGs than petroleum while advanced biofuels must emit 50% fewer GHGs.
The EPA has recently been issuing growing numbers of approvals of fuels that can be used to meet the mandates, aiding Obama Administration efforts to bolster low-carbon fuel mandates.
For example, last July, EPA approved a rule that allows several feedstocks to qualify for credit under the cellulosic and advanced fuel categories, including compressed and liquefied natural gas produced from biogas from landfills, municipal waste-water treatment facilities, agricultural digesters, and similar biogas producers.
EPA also used the rule to qualify electricity used to power electric vehicles produced from the biogas sources to be counted as cellulosic biofuel under the RFS.
Late last month, the Agency also suggested that it would likely approve sorghum for use as a fuel for credit in the cellulosic category because it met or exceeded the 60% GHG threshold.
The pathway decisions will likely lead to thousands of renewable identification number (RIN) credits being produced that refiners can use to comply with the program’s cellulosic requirements, undermining oil industry efforts to repeal the program due to lack of adequate production.  More information can be found here.

Ningxia Province Releases Local M15 and M30 Methanol Gasoline Standards

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ningxia provinceNingxia, China – On Wednesday, the Quality Supervision Bureau of Ningxia Autonomous Region (Province) in China released local standards that had been developed for M15 methanol gasoline for vehicles (DB64 / T1017-2014) and M30 methanol gasoline for vehicle (DB64 / T1018-2014). M15 fuels are comprised of 15% methanol and 85% gasoline blends, and M30 similarly contains 30% methanol and 70% gasoline.  The two local standards were jointly drafted by the Ningxia Quality Supervision Institute and Boata Petrochemical, a local petrochemical company.

Ningxia’s announcement follows similar initiatives by Shanxi, Shaanxi, and Guizhou provinces, as well as by Shanghai.  In total, 27 Chinese provinces are engaged in methanol standards work and/or development of methanol fuel blends.  Ningxia is keen to promote methanol fuel developments due to the favorable, long-term economics and improved environmental emissions quality.  More information can be found here.

Stena Germanica to Run on Methanol

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Stena LineGoeteborg, Sweden:  Swedish ferry company Stena Line, which is one of the world’s largest ferry companies, announced on Wednesday that it would covert the Stena Germanica to run on methanol propulsion.  The 240 meter (792 foot) long, 1,500-passenger ship will be converted to run on methanol at the Remontova Shipyard in Poland starting in January.

The process, which will take six weeks to complete, will cost Euro 22 million (USD 27.6 million).  It is being financially supported by the European Union (EU)’s “Motorways of the Seas” initiative.  The project is also being done in cooperation with engine manufacturer Wärtsilä, the port of Gothenburg, the port of Kiel, and MI member Methanex Corporation.

Stena Germanica will be converted at Remontova Shipyard in Poland starting January 2015; the process is expected to take six weeks and is financially supported by the EU “Motorways of the Seas” initiative. Total project cost is about Euro 22 million.

From early 2015, vessels in the area around the Baltic and North Sea, known as the “Sulphur Emissions Control Area” (SECA) will need to use fuel with a low sulphur content of 0.1%; by 2020, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will require all ships operating in other areas globally to reduce sulphur (SOx) emissions to 0.5%.  In addition to changing to low-sulphur oils, Stena Line is evaluating methanol and other alternative fuels and techniques for emissions reduction.  It is estimated that by using methanol in marine fuels, SOx emissions will be reduced by 99$%, nitrogen (NOx) by 60%, particles (PM) by 95%, and carbon dioxide (CO2) by 25%, as compared to emissions from today’s bunker and marine fuels.

MI led a delegation of members to Trieste, Italy in June to meet with Wartsila and Stena.  While there, they discussed the joint project, the future of marine fuels in Europe, and had an opportunity to observe the first test running of a Stena engine retrofitted to run on methanol.  Toni Stojcevski, Wärtsilä’s Project Manager on the Stena program, will speak further about marine fuel technologies and the work Wärtsilä and Stena are doing during the QAFAC Middle East Methanol Forum (MEMF), which will be held next Wednesday, November 26 in Doha, Qatar.  A video on this technology can also be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTSczYMZIE8.  More information can be found here.

MI-LIAM Community Education Presentation at IMPCA Asia 2014

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LIAM SingaporeSingapore – The 17th IMPCA Asian Methanol Conference 2014 was held this Tuesday-Thursday at The Regent Hotel Singapore.

This year’s conference, under the theme, “China Driving Global Growth of Methanol,” attracted 140 participants from methanol producers, consumers, and affiliated technology companies from around the globe.  Much of the conference’s focus was on China’s increasing importance as a methanol hub for areas ranging from fuel blending and dimethyl ether (DME) production to methanol-to-olefins (MTO) and coal-to-methanol applications.

Paul Moschell, President of MI member Atlantic Methanol Production Companies (AMPCO), MI Board member, and Chairman of the Institute’s Product Stewardship Committee, and Lhani & Tim Davies, founders of the LIAM Charitable Fund, gave an excellent, moving presentation about alcohol poisoning incidents globally and in Indonesia, the death of the Davies’ son Liam in January 2013, and how MI and LIAM have worked closely on the Community Education Program in Bali.

MI filmed the video presentation, and will make it available via the Institute’s social media resources in the coming weeks.