Zero Waste Logo The Zero Wate Network the University of Texas at Arlington Center for Environmental Excellence Environmental Training Institute Logo  

Join Us on:

Social Network Nav Bar

Lean and P2 Workshops

Nov, 14-16, 2017,

Dec. 5-7, 2017




Environmental Management Systems Workshops

Lake Charles
Sep. 26-29, 2017

Dec. 12-15, 2017



Case Study Database

           Add Story    |    Search Case Studies    |   


FMC Corporation

Year Submitted: 2003

Process: Ion Exchange Recharge

Industry: Chemical Manufacturing

Wastes Reduced: Process Chemicals

Substance: Methanol

Equipment: Steam Distillation

Location: Pasadena TX

No. of employees: 76

Contact: Eric B. Robinson

Phone: (713) 474-8705


Spent methanol was the largest hazardous waste at the FMC Bayport plant. Methanol is used to regenerate a catalyst in the Hydrogen Peroxide purification process. The regeneration process utilizes methanol as a solvent for organics and thus spent methanol is generated.
In the past, the spent methanol was shipped off-site as a hazardous waste for energy recovery. In 1991, a project to process spent methanol and recover methanol from the waste stream was initiated.
The "methanol recovery project" is a steam distillation of spent methanol. The process utilizes the technology similar to that utilized at the PXD Spring Hill plant. In this process, the spent methanol enters a distillation column, in which steam is injected directly into the column to provide heat energy, rather than a conventional indirectly heated thermosyphon reboiler. This unique process was designed to insure that the hydrogen peroxide, a contaminant in spent methanol, is not concentrated in the still bottoms to a dangerous level.
The recovery unit was successfully commissioned in March of 1992. In addition to the elimination of spent methanol, a hazardous waste, it is a cost saving project. In 1993, it saved FMC $380,000. The project was also recognized as a NICE3 (National Industrial Competitiveness through Efficiency: Energy, Environment and Economics) project, a joint program administered by the United States Department of Energy, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Department of Commerce. The Bayport facility received a grant of $174,000 to build the methanol recovery unit and demonstrate that methanol can safely and efficiently be recovered and recycled from the waste stream containing small amounts of hydrogen peroxide. The $174,000 grant was applied to the capital cost of the recovery unit. The Bayport methanol recovery unit has demonstrated an average recovery efficiency of 96.6%.

P2 Application:

The distillation of methanol solvent is a standard process. However, the distillation of methanol contaminated with Hydrogen Peroxide requires special consideration. The concentration of Hydrogen Peroxide in a solution containing organics presents a decomposition hazard. As a result, a team of FMC Engineers and Scientists modified the conventional distillation column design and came up with the innovative idea of direct steam injection in the distillation column. This is not only a more efficient way to transfer energy into the column but it also provides necessary dilution so a high concentration of Hydrogen Peroxide does not occur.

Environmental Benefits:

As a result of the implementation of this project, spent methanol, a hazardous waste at the FMC Bayport plant, has been eliminated. Based on 1993 production rate, it is estimated that 330,000 gallons (2,357,000 Lb) of hazardous waste was eliminated (on an annual basis).

Details of Reductions

Additional Information :

The reduction in generation of hazardous waste has resulted in $297,000 savings in disposal costs and $83,000 savings in the materials, not purchased. This amounts to a million Btu savings. The project eliminated environmental liability for the Bayport plant. The plant was able to change its status from a TSD (Treater, Storer, Disposal), facility to a Generator only facility.

Source: TCEQ

SHEP Shield
Health and

ERP Shield

ESP Shield

EMP Shield

Attend a workshop and
earn credits toward a
Professional Certification



The Zero Waste Network is one of eight Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange P2RxCenters , serving as a national network of regional information centers: NEWMOA (Northeast), WRRC (Southeast), GLRPPR (Great Lakes), ZeroWasteNet (Southwest), P2RIC (Plains), Peaks to Prairies (Mountain), WSPPN (Pacific Southwest), PPRC (Northwest). We are a proud member of the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable.

National P2 Roundtable Logo