Major methanol plant due for Lake Charles

Lake Charles, in the southwest corner of Louisiana where the economy has been booming with new commercial and industrial construction, is set to receive another major boost with what appears to be the world's first methanol production facility to employ carbon capture technology. The U.S. Department of Energy in late December announced approval of a $2 billion loan guarantee, the first made under the Department's Advanced Fossil Energy Project.

If constructed, the project would also be the first petroleum coke (petcoke) to methanol facility in the U.S. Petcoke is a byproduct from oil refining, which is a major and growing industry in the Lake Charles area.

Methanol is one of the world's most widely-used industrial chemicals, in applications from paints and plastics, furniture and carpeting, to automotive parts, windshield washer fluid, and fuel blending, according to a statement from the Department of Energy. By using petcoke as the feedstock and employing carbon capture at the project, the proposed project will reduce emissions of carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released.

Overall, Lake Charles Methanol anticipates a $3.8 billion infrastructure investment for the project, that will help to support the Gulf Coast economy by creating an expected 1,000 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs in Louisiana. The project will also create roughly 300 jobs in Texas.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said "DOE's decision to issue a conditional commitment of up to $2 billion to Lake Charles Methanol proves that Louisiana is a great place to do business and that Louisiana has a promising future in clean energy projects. This project demonstrates how government and private enterprise can work together to support energy technologies that improve the environment while creating new jobs and economic development."

The proposed plant will produce methanol. Hydrogen, and other industrial gases and chemical products. The carbon dioxide captured from petcoke gasification will be compressed for commercial pipeline transport. The captured carbon dioxide will be transported to oil fields in Texas for enhanced oil recovery (EOR), resulting in sequestration of 4.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.

The project reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 36 percent compared to typical methanol facilities. Overall, the project captures 77 prcent of all carbon dioxide produced by the facility.

The Lake Charles Methanol project is the DOE's first advanced fossil energy project under its Title XVII program, is the nation's first petcoke to methanol facility, the world's first methanol facility to employ carbon capture technology, and the world's largest carbon capture facility.