This week, Houston hosted both the Argus/JJ&A Methanol Forum and the 7th International DME Conference. With well-over 250 attendees, the Methanol Forum began with a keynote address by former US Senator Mary Landrieu, arranged by the Methanol Institute. Her talk focused on the role methanol can play in a carbon constrained world, noting “methanol provides the energy we need while reducing emissions.” Argus Vice President for Methanol & Derivatives Dave McCaskill provided the global methanol review, noting that the world will continue to need the addition of two world-scale methanol plants per year, as demand rises from 75 million metric tons in 2015, to 82 million tons this year, and into the mid-90s by 2020.
Jason Chesko from Methanex gave a presentation on the use of methanol as a marine fuel, noting that Waterfront Shipping has now taken delivery of 5 of 7 methanol dual-fuel vessels. Rebecca Boudreaux of Oberon Fuels highlighted the use of DME as a transportation fuel. Julian Morris of Johnson Matthey discussed the state of the formaldehyde industry in the US and globally. MI’s Greg Dolan closed the opening day with a presentation on how public policy drivers are impacting global methanol markets. The second day featured presentations on growth in the construction industry, methanol shipping economics, and highlights of China’s use of methanol as a fuel and a feedstock for olefins production.
The International DME Association hosted DME 7, bringing together leaders of the DME industry from North America, Europe and Asia. IDA Chair and Oberon Fuels President Rebecca Boudreaux provided the opening keynote address discussing the latest DME demonstration programs, including Volvo trucks in Texas, Ford passenger cars in Germany, and Mack Trucks in New York City. The NYC Sanitation Department has faced challenges using biodiesel, CNG and LNG in their fleet, which totals 7,000 vehicles including 2000 garbage trucks. The use of DME at the Freshkills Landfill in Staten Island will introduce DME to this market. Greg Dolan provided the other keynote address focusing on methanol’s resurgence in production and fuels markets. Esben Sorensen of Haldor Topsoe discussed the path to commercialization for DME. Werner Willems of Ford gave a presentation on the use of DME and OME1 as sustainable fuels for compression ignition engines, and Emmanuel Varenne of Volvo Trucks provided an update on DME heavy-duty vehicle development. Michael Wang of Argonne National Laboratory presented work done with Oberon, Ford and Volvo to develop a life-cycle greenhouse gas assessment of DME fuel.