FirmGreen, Mitsubishi Gas to make 'renewable methanol' available to biodiesel industry

By | October 01, 2005
An agreement between FirmGreen Energy Inc. (FGE) and Mitsubishi Gas Chemical America Inc. (MGCA), under which FGE will provide MGCA with as much as 6 million gallons of methanol per year, was ratified by the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio in mid-July. The approved deal-something FGE officials called a "partnership of technology and marketing"-effectively allows FGE to build a methanol plant and provide MGCA with the offtake. MGCA, in turn, intends to market at least some of the methanol into the U.S. biodiesel industry.

According to FGE spokeswoman Rhonda Howard, FGE will produce "green methanol"-methanol made from renewable stocks of landfill gas rather than from conventional non-renewable sources such as a natural gas or coal. The product will be supplied from FGE's future methanol plant in Grove City, Ohio. Howard said the plant is currently under construction. The facility is being touted as the largest landfill gas-to-renewable methanol project in the world, and it's receiving strong praise from the Methanol Institute for its innovative use of technology. "Using renewable feedstocks such as landfill methane to produce a high-value chemical and fuel like methanol makes a world of sense," said Methanol Institute President and CEO John Lynn.

The plant's central location in Iowa positions the companies to reach numerous methanol customers in the region, biodiesel producers among them, as well as supplement the traditional methanol market, according to Mark Vassar, MGCA's vice president of marketing and sales. MGCA is one of the largest methanol producers in the world. The company owns two large-scale joint venture plants, one in Saudi Arabia and another in Venezuela. Methanol from the Venezuelan plant is marketed in the United States. In addition, MGCA has two storage terminals in the United States.

Steve Wilburn, president and CEO of FGE, said both companies have received overwhelming consumer interest in the future availability of green methanol. "We're very pleased to be working with Mitsubishi to supply renewable methanol to the world marketplace," Wilburn said. "Their position as an industry leader brings a high level of credibility to the whole undertaking."
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