History of the project

The initiators of the SUPER METHANOL project started their research into supercritical reforming in 1997. In 1997-1998 an Cooperative Research project comprising a techno-economic process analysis was completed under the JOULE research programme (project JOR3-971005). Building on the outcome, the Dutch project partners secured funding for the construction of a simple continuous flow unit. This lab-scale plant unit proofed the technical feasibility of the complete RSW process (excluding gas upgrading). From model compounds (ethanol, glucose) the RSW process yields a hydrogen rich gas (up to 50 vol. %). Late 2000 a three-year project started aimed at the design and development of the reforming reactor, fundamental aspects of the hydrodynamics and reaction kinetics.

Most recent and comprehensive work on the reforming in supercritical water (RSW) has been carried out in the framework of the EU supported RTD projects WINEGAS and SUPERHYDROGEN. In parallel with these EU projects, the Dutch SCARLET project was carried out in which the RSW of (oils derived from) slurries was investigated. Another study assessed the combination of RSW and methanol synthesis.

Prior RSW projects

  Title Period


Hydrogen production by supercritical biomass reforming (exploratory research) Aug 1997 - March 1998


Hydrogen and other fuel gases from aqueous biomass by supercritical water reforming
(exploratory research)
April 1999 - June 2000


Supercritical Water Reforming
(International Joint Research Grant)


WINEGAS: Hydrogen-rich gas from supercritical water reforming of wine grape residues and greenhouse residual biomass
(co-operative research)


SUPER HYDROGEN: Biomass and waste conversion in supercritical water for the production of renewable H2 Dec. 2001- March 2006


SCARLET: Hydrogen and other fuel gases from supercritical water by thermal treatment with biomass April 2004 - Dec. 2007


Supercritical water reforming: scoping study methanol production Jan 2006 - Dec 2006


Supercritical water reforming: understanding process fundamentals and controlling the gas composition Jan 2007- Dec 2010

It turned out that in particular glycerine is an ideal feedstock for the RSW process (proper conversion, easy to pump, no blocking of reactor and heat exchanger). Further work has been performed on using crude glycerine from biodiesel production. Crude glycerine from different production facilities can be quite different in composition, but in all cases the glycerine content is high with varying amounts of methanol, water, fatty acids and alkalis. An overview of the earlier projects on which SUPER METHANOL builds is presented in the table above.