“Bringing Green Icelandic Technology to the World Market”

Icelandic company Carbon Recycling International (CRI) has helped build the world’s largest chemical plant in China, using carbon dioxide emissions as material for chemical processing.

The plant can recover about 160,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year from emissions, with an annual production capacity of about 110,000 tons of methanol. Located in Anyang, Henan Province, China, the plant is owned by Shunli, which is majority-owned by Chinese industrial company Henan Shuncheng Group.

The plant was planned and built in the last two years. It is based on manufacturing techniques and equipment developed by CRI and first tried and tested at the company’s Svartsengi power plant. The plant in China is 28 times larger than Iceland’s Svartsengi power plant. CRI is a world leader in the technology to produce environmentally friendly chemicals and electric fuels by reusing carbon dioxide.

Catalyst tank a key component in the process

A key component of the facility’s manufacturing process is a catalytic tank, designed and built to CRI specifications. The catalyst tank is filled with chemical catalysts that help convert carbon dioxide into liquid methanol, which can be used both as a fuel and as a raw material for a variety of chemical products.

The catalytic tank weighs about 84 tons, or more than a fully loaded Boeing 737 passenger jet. The tank is mounted in a steel frame and connected to other equipment via piping, including a special gas compressor and a nearly 70-meter-tall still column, which is slightly lower than Hallgrímskirkja, the tallest church in Reykjavík.

CRI employs about 30 people, but the project is the largest the company has undertaken to date. The company’s team has been working on site in China since June.

Treatment and separation of gas

The manufacturing process includes the treatment and capture of the gas from the coke ovens, as well as the capture of the CO2 stream that would otherwise be released into the air. The gas is a by-product of processing raw materials such as coke and limestone to make steel. The methanol is produced using the so-called ETL technology developed by CRI.

According to an announcement by CRI, it will replace coal-derived methanol in China.

The methanol produced in this process has a much lower carbon footprint than other methanol production processes in China. China is the world’s largest producer and user of methanol, and about 80% of methanol is produced by burning coal. This production has the disadvantage of high air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, or more than four tons of carbon dioxide per ton of methanol produced.

Proud of the project

“We are very proud of the company’s success in this important project bringing environmentally friendly Icelandic technology to the global market. CRI’s technology is unique in the world, but its use can reduce carbon emissions while producing a product that can play a key role in energy exchange, among other things. CRI’s technology can produce electric fuels that replace fossil fuels in this country.

The domestic generation of electricity fuel also supports the domestic economy and increases energy security. For example, the production of three plants of this size would be enough for a complete energy exchange for the country’s fleet,” says Björk Kristjánsdóttir, director of CRI.

CRI has just received the Icelandic Engineering Association’s Cube Award for developing the technology and factory in Anyang, China.

CRI has now completed the design of its second plant in China. The market launch is planned for the end of 2023. The company is seeing a surge in demand for its eco-friendly technology around the world.

“Each factory generates valuable import revenue from technology royalties, engineering services, technical services, and the sale of specialized equipment, among other things. The company is a major player in the circular economy and bases its operations on the export of Iceland-developed environmental solutions and intellectual property,” the announcement reads.


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