Please wait a minute...
Submit  |   Chinese  | 
Advanced Search
   Home  |  Online Now  |  Current Issue  |  Focus  |  Archive  |  For Authors  |  Journal Information   Open Access  
Submit  |   Chinese  | 
Engineering    2017, Vol. 3 Issue (2) : 166 -170
Research |
Artificial versus Natural Reuse of CO2 for DME Production: Are We Any Closer?
Mariano Martín()
Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Salamanca, Salamanca 37008, Spain

This work uses a mathematical optimization approach to analyze and compare facilities that either capture carbon dioxide (CO2) artificially or use naturally captured CO2 in the form of lignocellulosic biomass toward the production of the same product, dimethyl ether (DME). In nature, plants capture CO2 via photosynthesis in order to grow. The design of the first process discussed here is based on a superstructure optimization approach in order to select technologies that transform lignocellulosic biomass into DME. Biomass is gasified; next, the raw syngas must be purified using reforming, scrubbing, and carbon capture technologies before it can be used to directly produce DME. Alternatively, CO2 can be captured and used to produce DME via hydrogenation. Hydrogen (H2) is produced by splitting water using solar energy. Facilities based on both photovoltaic (PV) solar or concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies have been designed; their monthly operation, which is based on solar availability, is determined using a multi-period approach. The current level of technological development gives biomass an advantage as a carbon capture technology, since both water consumption and economic parameters are in its favor. However, due to the area required for growing biomass and the total amount of water consumed (if plant growing is also accounted for), the decision to use biomass is not a straightforward one.

Keywords Solar energy      Photovoltaic      Concentrated solar power      Biomass      Water electrolysis      Dimethyl ether     
Corresponding Authors: Mariano Martín   
Just Accepted Date: 16 March 2017   Online First Date: 13 April 2017    Issue Date: 27 April 2017
E-mail this article
E-mail Alert
Articles by authors
Mariano Martí
Cite this article:   
Mariano Martí,n. Artificial versus Natural Reuse of CO2 for DME Production: Are We Any Closer?[J]. Engineering, 2017, 3(2): 166 -170 .
URL:     OR
1   Overview of greenhouse gases [Internet]. Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency. [updated 2017 Feb 14; cited 2017 Mar]. Available from:
2   National Energy Technology Laboratory. CO2 utilization focus area [Internet]. Washington, DC: US Department of Energy. [cited 2017 Mar]. Available from:
3   Kondratenko EV, Mul G, Baltrusaitis J, Larrazábal GO, Pérez-Ramírez J J. Status and perspectives of CO2 conversion into fuels and chemicals by catalytic, photocatalytic and electrocatalytic processes. Energy Environ Sci 2013;6(11):3112–35
doi: 10.1039/c3ee41272e
4   Davis W, Martín M. Optimal year-round operation for methane production from CO2 and water using wind and/or solar energy. J Clean Prod 2014;80:252–61
doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.05.077
5   Martín M, Grossmann IE. Optimal integration of a self sustained algae based facility with solar and/or wind energy. J Clean Prod 2017;145:336–47
doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.01.051
6   Martín M. Optimal year-round production of DME from CO2 and water using renewable energy. J CO2 Util 2016;13:105–13
doi: 10.1016/j.jcou.2016.01.003
7   Martín M, Grossmann IE. On the systematic synthesis of sustainable biorefineries. Ind Eng Chem Res 2013;52(9):3044–64
doi: 10.1021/ie2030213
8   Peral E, Martín M. Optimal production of dimethyl ether from switchgrass-based syngas via direct synthesis. Ind Eng Chem Res 2015;54(30):7465–75
doi: 10.1021/acs.iecr.5b00823
9   Grossmann IE, Caballero JA, Yeomans H. Mathematical programming approaches to the synthesis of chemical process systems. Korean J Chem Eng 1999;16(4):407–26
doi: 10.1007/BF02698263
10   Sinnott RK, Towler G. Chemical engineering design. 5th ed. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann; 2009.
11   Martín M, Grossmann IE. Energy optimization of hydrogen production from lignocellulosic biomass. Comput Chem Eng 2011;35(9):1798–806
doi: 10.1016/j.compchemeng.2011.03.002
12   Martín L, Martín M. Optimal year-round operation of a concentrated solar energy plant in the south of Europe. Appl Therm Eng 2013; 59(1–2):627–33
doi: 10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2013.06.031
13   Almena A, Martín M. Techno-economic analysis of the production of epichlorohydrin from glycerol. Ind Eng Chem Res 2016;55(12):3226–38
doi: 10.1021/acs.iecr.5b02555
14   Record yield for Miscanthus crop [Internet]. Aberystwyth: Farming Futures; c2010 [cited 2016 Sep 28]. Available from:
15   Average annual precipitation for Germany [Internet]. Smithers: Current Results Publishing, Ltd.; c2017 [cited 2017 Mar]. Available from:
16   Qin X, Mohan T, El-Halwagi M, Cornforth G, McCarl BA. Switchgrass as an alternate feedstock for power generation: An integrated environmental, energy and economic life-cycle assessment. Clean Technol Envir 2006; 8(4):233–49
doi: 10.1007/s10098-006-0065-4
17   David J, Herzog H. The cost of carbon capture [Internet]. [cited 2017 Mar]. Available from:
[1] Michael Powalla, Stefan Paetel, Dimitrios Hariskos, Roland Wuerz, Friedrich Kessler, Peter Lechner, Wiltraud Wischmann, Theresa Magorian Friedlmeier. Advances in Cost-Efficient Thin-Film Photovoltaics Based on Cu(In,Ga)Se2[J]. Engineering, 2017, 3(4): 445 -451 .
[2] Qingshan Huang, Fuhua Jiang, Lianzhou Wang, Chao Yang. Design of Photobioreactors for Mass Cultivation of Photosynthetic Organisms[J]. Engineering, 2017, 3(3): 318 -329 .
Copyright © 2015 Higher Education Press & Engineering Sciences Press, All Rights Reserved.