China’s Geely Group invests in renewable methanol technology in Europe

China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (Geely Group) will invest USD 45.5 million over three years in Carbon Recycling International (CRI). Geely Group will become a major shareholder of CRI and will be represented in CRI’s board of directors. CRI, which is based in Reykjavik, Iceland, is developing technology to produce renewable methanol from clean energy and recycled CO2 emissions. Geely Group and CRI intend to collaborate on the deployment of renewable methanol fuel production technology in China and explore the development and deployment of 100% methanol-fueled vehicles in China, Iceland and other countries.

Geely has invested significant resources in the development and promotion of methanol-fueled engines and vehicles. Geely was the first carmaker in China to conduct research and development into methanol vehicle solutions in 2005, and has since acquired dozens of patents. Geely’s Englon SC7 sedan was the first methanol-fueled car to receive approval from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The company is proactively working with partners across China to expand the use of methanol-fueled vehicles. In April 2015, Geely deployed a first-of-its-kind fleet of 150 methanol-fueled taxis in the southern Chinese city of Guiyang. The project will be followed by similar initiatives elsewhere in China.

Geely’s investment in CRI will build on its existing methanol technology and allow the company to promote advanced methanol technology in Europe. Its strategy is similar to Audi’s—producing very low carbon liquid or gaseous fuels using only renewable energy, water and CO2.

Methanol can be produced from a range of renewable sources and fossil fuel-based feedstocks. In practice, methanol is mainly produced in coal-rich China from coal. Because of China’s coal reserves, the country has viewed methanol as a viable alternative for gasoline; methanol and methanol-blended gasoline are used in more than 20 provinces. The Chinese government is developing a fuel methanol industry by promoting high content methanol gasoline, determining a reasonable pricing method and strengthening organization and management. Although methanol-fueled vehicles can reduce regulated emissions, comparably higher carbonyl emissions, in particular formaldehyde, remain a challenge. China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection has plans for an emission standard for methanol-fueled light-duty vehicles, in which carbonyl pollution will be legislatively capped; the limit value is under discussion. Currently there is only a temporary limit value of 10mg/km.