MHI and NGK to work on membrane dehydration systems for bioethanol and eMethanol

Japanese companies Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and NGK INSULATORS (NGK) will jointly develop two membrane dehydration systems to realize low cost and optimize the efficiency of manufacturing processes for bioethanol and eMethanol.

Courtesy of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI)

Specifically, the parties will begin developing two types of membrane dehydration systems, one for each of the fuels. Bioethanol is a clean fuel derived from plants, primarily corn and sugarcane. MHI claimed it is widely used as automotive fuel in the United States (U.S.) and Brazil and is expected to contribute to the growth of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as one of its main raw materials. As for eMethanol, it is gaining attention as a next-generation clean fuel, primarily a marine fuel.

According to MHI, the membrane separation system developed for bioethanol will replace the conventional dehydration process, which consumes the most energy in the bioethanol manufacturing process, and the second system will replace the dehydration process in the production of eMethanol, which utilizes hydrogen and CO2 as raw materials.

To this project, MHI said the company will contribute its expertise in delivering methanol plants and other chemical plants, in addition to its technologies for handling methanol and various other chemicals, while NGK will contribute its knowledge of sub-nano ceramic membrane technology and film deposition technology developed in the fields of chemical processes and water purification.

To note, MHI Group’s goal is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040. Through the development and commercialization of manufacturing processes for hydrogen-free bioethanol and eMethanol, the company stated it will strive for the early establishment and execution of decarbonization technologies as a way of contributing to the realization of a sustainable, carbon-neutral world.

NGK Group has formulated a ‘Carbon Neutrality Strategic Roadmap’ consisting of four strategies to contribute to the realization of a carbon-neutral society and promoting the development and provision of hydrogen and carbon dioxide capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) related technologies and products.

In April 2024, MHI and NGK entered a partnership to jointly develop a hydrogen purification system that uses membrane separation to purify from hydrogen-nitrogen mixture gas after ammonia cracking.

The companies expect the technology to contribute to the establishment of a hydrogen and ammonia supply chain enabling high-volume transport, MHI noted at the time, adding that both parties are committed to driving the development forward, aiming to achieve early commercialization.

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