The tandem reformer is an integration of steam reforming and partial oxidation for the generation of synthesis gas to achieve desired hydrogen to carbon monoxide ratios. A hydrocarbon-steam mixture is first reformed in tube reactors and then partially oxidized with oxygen. The escaping synthesis gas heats the tube reactors. The process heat from the partial oxidation is thus used for the steam reforming process.
Methanol (CH3OH or MeOH) is produced from synthesis gas in Linde’s innovative isothermal reactor. It is a fixed bed reactor where the catalyst directs the reaction heat to a cooling pipe bundle, maintaining an optimal operating temperature for the production of methanol. This design provides higher performance, requires less catalyst, produces fewer byproducts, and benefits from lower costs than alternative technologies.
Linde has been a licensee of ICI (now Johnson Matthey) for its low-pressure methanol synthesis and distillation processes since 1984. The JM methanol technology is the market leader and, in combination with Linde's isothermal reactor, represents an ideal system for methanol synthesis and distillation.
Many large-scale methanol plants have upstream syngas generating plants to produce a dedicated feedstock of syngas for methanol synthesis. A large scale "green field" methanol plant ideally has two-stage synthesis gas production. A steam reformer or gas-heated reformer is suitable for the first step of syngas production. The second stage uses oxygen to produce syngas with the ideal hydrogen/carbon monoxide ratio to limit the loss of purge gas. The combination of a gas-heated reformer and a secondary reformer with oxygen is called a Tandem reformer and has very low energy consumption.