Notes from Windward: #62

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LPMeOH Conversion of Wood Chips into Auto Fuel

     Note: this is the short version. A more detailed explanation is to follow.

     For decades, methanol has been made by condensing two gasses, carbon monoxide and hydrogen, on a solid catalyst in a process that required a large reactor and lots of support equipment.

     In the 90's, a breakthrough resulted in the development of the liquid process methanol reactor (LPMeOH). Instead of using trays of pelletized catalyst, the new process grinds the catalyst into a fine powder that's then suspended as a slurry in mineral oil. The input gasses are then bubbled up through the slurry, a technique which increases the through-put efficiency some fourfold, and allows even a small reactor to work efficiently. Indeed, the reactor used to create the engineering design data for the first production scale plant was made from a six foot length of one inch diameter stainless steel pipe.

     The goal is to build a micro-plant that will produce a gallon of methanol an hour out of wood waste. That would be more than enough to power our tractor, farm truck and motorized equipment, all without having to leave the land.

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