Coal-derived methanol for hydrogen vehicles in China: Energy, environment, and economic analysis for distributed reforming
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Hydrogen is considered an ideal energy carrier, but the storage and efficient delivery of hydrogen to vehicles still remain a challenging problem currently. This study analyzes the possibilities of using methanol as a hydrogen carrier in China, based on the distributed methanol reforming technology at forecourt refueling stations. A detailed well-to-tank life cycle analysis was applied to the hydrogen production from coal-derived methanol at refueling stations (onsite methanol pathway) from energy, environmental and economic performance aspects, followed by comparisons between the onsite pathway and conventional ones on the delivery cost of hydrogen, energy efficiency, and CO2 emissions. The study shows that a coal-derived methanol pathway with distributed reforming utilities is well suited for China's specific energy situation, therefore it could play a key role in the transition process to a hydrogen economy in China. 2009 The Institution of Chemical Engineers.