Foster Wheeler and Starchem Technologies have agreed to jointly develop and commercialize a unique, large-scale production technology to produce methanol as a low cost liquid fuel for the power generation market. It enables methanol to be delivered more economically than liquified natural gas (LNG). The methanol can be used by power generation companies without any substantial capital modification to their present sites.

Based on the reforming of natural gas, the process uses air which is extracted from a gas turbine and then enriched through membranes. This eliminates the need for an air separation unit normally required to supply oxygen for the process.

An additional innovation in the process is the use of a series of reactors arranged in a cascade in lieu of the conventional methanol synthesis loop.

These features should enable large quantities of methanol to be produced at low production costs, making it commercially competitive. The methanol can be burned in a gas turbine which has had minor adaptations in order to accommodate the fuel change from natural gas or petroleum fuels.

Methanol contains no sulphur or nitrogenous materials, and hence it has very low emission levels.