Volume 94 Issue 13 | p. 7 | News of The Week
Issue Date: March 28, 2016 | Web Date: March 25, 2016

Carbon dioxide hydrogenated to methanol on large scale

Supported indium oxide catalyst could boost lab-scale process to an industrial level
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Environmental SCENE, Organic SCENE
Keywords: catalysis, carbon dioxide, CO2, hydrogenation, methanol, CH3OH
Vacancies on the surface of a ZrO2-supported In2O3 catalyst play a key role in converting CO2 to CH3OH.
Credit: Adapted from Qingfeng Ge & Javier Pérez-Ramírez
Reaction scheme shows how catalyst vacancies provide sites that facilitate the direct conversion of carbon dioxide to methanol.
Vacancies on the surface of a ZrO2-supported In2O3 catalyst play a key role in converting CO2 to CH3OH.
Credit: Adapted from Qingfeng Ge & Javier Pérez-Ramírez

Manufacturers generally produce methanol, a key chemical building block and fuel, from petroleum-derived syngas, a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Direct hydrogenation of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide would be a more efficient and environmentally sustainable route to methanol. But practical catalysts capable of making this reaction happen on an industrial scale have been unavailable.

Scientists had shown earlier that indium oxide catalyzes the direct hydrogenation of CO2 to CH3OH on a lab scale. Javier Pérez-Ramírez of ETH Zurich and coworkers now demonstrate that zirconium oxide-supported In2O3 catalyzes the process under conditions similar to those required for industrial production (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201600943).

The supported catalyst can convert CO2 and H2 to CH3OH over at least 1,000 hours of continuous use and outperforms most other hydrogenation catalysts. The researchers proved experimentally that oxygen vacancies on the catalyst surface make the reaction possible—a mechanism predicted by theoretical calculations from a team led by Qingfeng Ge of Southern Illinois University and Tianjin University (ACS Catal. 2013, DOI: 10.1021/cs400132a).

The ETH Zurich group optimized the reaction by adding CO to the starting materials and varying the temperature, both of which tuned the number of vacancies. The technique is “a long-sought breakthrough with the potential to realize continuous CO2 conversion to methanol on a commercial scale,” Ge says.

Pérez-Ramírez and coworkers have filed patent applications on the technology in collaboration with French energy firm Total, which has started pilot studies of the process.

This article has been translated into Chinese and can be found here.

To see all of C&EN’s articles that have been translated into Chinese, visit http://cen.acs.org/cn.html.

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RAKESH (September 15, 2016 2:41 AM)
Dear Sir/Madam,

We have abundance of CO2 being seperated from natural gas in Gas Processing Plants.In the absence of any viable option, the CO2 is being vented out to atmosphere.We are looking for technology for continuous CO2 conversion to methanol on a commercial scale for entering into industrial production.

Looking forward to listen further in this regard technology for continuous CO2 conversion to methanol.
Dr. Yu (April 17, 2017 4:20 AM)
Application of solar energy and CO2 to produce fuel is very promising, and our company is very concerned about and waiting for the industrial level technique in this field.
I would like to bulid contact with scientists in the field.
He who is interested in this... (October 1, 2017 1:59 PM)
How interesting. I always knew that they had a more efficient way of producing methanol other than the destructive distillation of wood, but I never knew how it worked or what type of catalyst they used until today. I really like the picture you provide as well. It is very helpful.
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