Discover the last paper of TU/e in collaboration with ENGIE, on “Techno-economic assessment of the one-step CO2 conversion to dimethyl ether in a membrane-assisted process” published in Journal of CO2 utilization”!

Authors: Serena Poto, Thomas Vink, Pierre Oliver, Fausto Gallucci, M. Fernanda Neira d’Angel

Journal of CO2 Utilization, Volume 69, March 2023, 102419


This study investigates the impact of the membrane reactor (MR) technology with in-situ removal of water to boost the performance of the one-step DME synthesis via CO2 hydrogenation at process scale. Given the higher efficiency in converting the feedstock, the membrane reactor allows for a remarkable decrease in the main cost drivers of the process, i.e., the catalyst mass and the H2 feed flow, by ca. 39% and 64%, respectively. Furthermore, the MR-assisted process requires 46% less utilities than the conventional process, especially in terms of cooling water and refrigerant, with a corresponding decrease in environmental impact (i.e., 25% less CO2 emissions). Both the conventional and MR-assisted plants were found effective for the mitigation of the CO2 emissions, avoiding ca. 1.4–1.6 tonCO2/ton DME. However, given the higher reactor and process efficiency, the membrane technology contributes to a significant reduction (i.e., 25%) in the operating costs, which is a remarkable improvement in this OPEX intensive process. Nevertheless, the calculated minimum DME selling price (i.e., 1739 €/ton and 1960 €/ton for the MR-assisted and the conventional process, respectively) is over 3 times greater than the current DME market price. Yet, with the predicted decrease of renewable H2 price and a zero-to-negative cost for the CO2 feedstock, the MR-assisted system could become competitive with the benchmark between 2025 and 2050.

1 step CO2 conversion to DME