New Valmet technology purifies methanol in Kraft pulp mills

Fossil free pulp mills with new methanol technology from Valmet

Fossil-free mills with lower NOx emissions

Purified methanol from pulp mills is a renewable, high-quality fuel. It is produced naturally from the incoming wood and can be used instead of oil. Better use of it can therefore help pulp mills to reduce their use of fossil fuels.

Methanol produced with Valmet's methanol purification technology works well as a start-up and support fuel in many areas in the mill. It has an even quality, which enables better control of the flame. And flame control is important in many applications, especially to achieve reliable operation of lime kilns.

Purified methanol has other benefits as well. Since most of the nitrogen is removed, fuel NOx is practically eliminated and emissions of NOx are lower. 

Existing methanol plants can be upgraded

The Valmet methanol purification technology is designed as an upgrade to existing methanol plants. The first step in the upgrade is to install a low-NOx module upstream from the methanol plant. The low-NOx module mainly removes nitrogen and water from the stripper off gas. 


A methanol plant with upgrade for production of purified methanol

With the low-NOx module in place, the methanol plant produces purified methanol. This methanol is low in odor and can be easily handled and stored in the mill. 

Methanol for chlorine dioxide production

Methanol for production of chlorine dioxide has to be free from compounds like ethanol and acetone. These compounds can be removed with a distillation technology similar to the one used in traditional methanol plants. 

If the upgraded methanol plant is further upgraded with two distillation columns, the flow of purified methanol becomes one flow of distilled methanol and one flow of purified methanol. The distilled methanol is extremely pure and can be used in several processes that require the methanol to be of very high quality. 


A methanol plant with upgrade before and after the existing methanol plant. The low-NOx purification before the methanol plant removes nitrogen while the two distillation columns after the methanol plant produce one stream of distilled methanol and one stream of purified methanol.

Lower use of fossil fuels and possibly also lower costs for chemicals

Using purified methanol can help the mill to reduce the use of fossil fuels and could also help to lower emissions of NOx. But there are also other mill processes where methanol can be used.

One example is production of chlorine dioxide, a common bleaching chemical. Some of the most important technologies for producing chlorine dioxide use methanol as a reducing agent. The use of locally produced methanol can considerably reduce the mill’s costs for imported methanol.

Chemical consumption and sulfur recovery

The Valmet methanol purification process uses sulfuric acid to convert ammonium into ammonium salts and promote separation of sulfur components. The extracted oil (red oil) contains sulfur and can be incinerated in the recovery boiler. The cost of chemicals is very low compared to the financial benefits of locally produced methanol.

Small footprint, attractive investment level

The Valmet methanol purification technology has a small footprint and can be installed in a relatively limited space. Valmet methanol purification makes it possible to upgrade existing methanol plants at very attractive levels of investment.

Unleashing the green value of methanol

Methanol is a pulp mill byproduct with great potential. Its better use may help a pulp mill lower the fuel costs, lower the carbon footprint and increase production.