Climate Action Through Renewable Methanol

Manu Pillai
3 min readSep 4, 2023

We make renewable microbial-methanol, at the lowest energy *and* carbon footprint possible, targeted at marine fuel use.

We think this is one of the fastest methods of displacing new CO2 and other polluting emissions from fossil fuels. While there is a major push towards battery powered systems, there are supply chain issues involved, from hard to find materials and their extractive methods, along with the fundamental issue of $/KwH stored. See below for more details on this. So we focused on hard to decarbonize sectors, and within those sought the most polluting.

This is key for us; GHGs are just another form of pollution. No one has any doubt about pollution. We all know we don’t want polluted sea, air or land.

Within the set of hard to decarbonize and highly polluting came iron/steel, coal power plants, plastics, fertilizer — and marine fuels. These are not moving to battery powered systems any time soon. We could see marine fuels as an area with a where a single-minded focus could make the most impact.

Impact thesis

Our climate-action thesis is simple; every ton of CO2 or CH4 avoided is permanent removal of CO2 and CH4 pollution.

We think all actions matter to counter GHG pollution, and avoidance really matters. If you have an energy-affordable method for carbon removal — go for it, and we are your supporter too. Just go our there and make an impact.

To reiterate, we are focused on stopping new CO2 and CH4 from getting into circulation by creating renewable fuels, with the lowest carbon cost AND the lowest energy cost. The 2nd part here matters a lot — energy is not free, even if its green. Even if it is financially free, there is always an opportunity cost.

Why renewable fuels?

Hard to decarbonize sectors like heavy machinery, ocean-going ships, airplanes require massive amounts of energy. The best batteries have an energy density of about 2.4 MJ/Litre along the charge time requirements that come with massive energy needs; they are also a bit expensive for the energy density deployed coming to over $100/MJ. Or put another way, you can use batteries to decarbonize heavy industry if you have a lot of time, a lot of cash, massive energy access, and a lot of space.

Why renewable methanol?

Methanol, CH3OH, is one of the simplest, but most versatile molecules.

It can be used directly as a fuel, in fuel cells, as feedstock for alt-protein companies, upgraded to more energy dense fuels — as well as classic uses in chemical production.

Methanol is NOT the most energy dense fuel; it is far less dense than diesel or aviation fuel for the same volume. BUT, it can be upgraded, and is easy to transport and store. In comparison to batteries, renewable, negative carbon-intensity methanol takes up 1/7 of the volume.

Heavy industry makes and moves the things that are the building blocks of our lives — and the base materials we build all our goods on top of. Any cost increases here impact everyone, rich and poor, with a massively disporportionate impact on the less wealthy. We should not leave the less fortunate behind.

By focusing on methanol, we can bring all our science and engineering skills to bear on one “lego block” molecule.

Our goal is to ensure as many industries as possible can decarbonize with fuels that are functionally equivalent while being affordable, and not adding any new climate pollution. And in doing so, protect our standards of living, and enable decarbonization to proceed at a faster pace globally.

Focus on shipping

Within hard to decarbonize industries, the shipping industry consumes about 3% of global energy, but over 13% of global air pollution.

Leading shipping companies — pulled by consumer demand and pushed by regulators — are switching away from dirty fuels and moving to methanol.

Given our focus on pollution as the culprit, we picked action to help shipping companies make the transition to cleaner fuels.

© CarbonBridge Inc. 2023

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Manu Pillai

Interests: IoT, Climate. Skills: Startups, AgTech, Edge, NPI, Systems, Mfg @manurpillai