Scientists at ETH Zurich and oil and gas company Total have developed a new catalyst that converts CO and hydrogen into methanol. Offering realistic market potential, the technology paves the way for the sustainable production of fuels and chemicals.
The global economy still relies on the fossil carbon sources of petroleum, natural gas and coal, not just to produce fuel, but also as a raw material used by the chemical industry to manufacture plastics and countless other chemical compounds. Although efforts have been made for some time to find ways of manufacturing liquid fuels and chemical products from alternative, sustainable resources, these have not yet progressed beyond niche applications.
Scientists at ETH Zurich have now teamed up with the French oil and gas company Total to develop a new technology that efficiently converts CO2 and hydrogen directly into methanol. Methanol is regarded as a commodity or bulk chemical. It is possible to convert it into fuels and a wide variety of chemical products, including those that today are mainly based on fossil resources. Moreover, methanol itself has the potential to be utilised as a propellant, in methanol fuel cells, for example.
The core of the new approach is a chemical catalyst based on indium oxide, which was developed by Javier Pérez-Ramírez, Professor of Catalysis Engineering at ETH Zurich, and his team. Just a few years ago, the team successfully demonstrated in experiments that indium oxide was capable of catalysing the necessary chemical reaction. Even at the time, it was encouraging that doing so generated virtually only methanol and almost no by-products other than water. The catalyst also proved to be highly stable. However, indium oxide was not sufficiently active as a catalyst; the large quantities needed prevent it from being a commercially viable option.
The team of scientists have now succeeded in boosting the activity of the catalyst significantly, without affecting its selectivity or stability. They achieved this by treating the indium oxide with a small quantity of palladium. “More specifically, we insert some single palladium atoms into the crystal lattice structure of the indium oxide, which anchor further palladium atoms to its surface, generating tiny clusters that are essential for the remarkable performance,” explains Cecilia Mondelli, a lecturer in Pérez-Ramírez’s group. Pérez-Ramírez points out that, with the aid of advanced analytical and theoretical methods, catalysis may now be considered nanotechnology, and in fact, the project clearly shows this to be the case.
The closed carbon cycle
“Nowadays, deriving methanol on an industrial scale is done exclusively from fossil fuels, with a correspondingly high carbon footprint,” Pérez-Ramírez says. “Our technology uses CO2 to produce methanol.” This CO2 may be extracted from the atmosphere or – more simply and efficiently – from the exhaust discharged by combustion power plants. Even if fuels are synthesised from the methanol and subsequently combusted, the CO2 is recycled and thus the carbon cycle is closed.
Producing the second raw material, hydrogen, requires electricity. However, the scientists point out that if this electricity comes from renewable sources such as wind, solar or hydropower energy, it can be used to make sustainable methanol and thus sustainable chemicals and fuels.
Compared to other methods that are currently being applied to produce green fuels, Pérez-Ramírez continues, this technology has the great advantage that it is almost ready for the market. ETH Zurich and Total have jointly filed a patent for the technology. Total now plans to scale up the approach and potentially implement the technology in a demonstration unit over the next few years.
Learn more: A catalyst for sustainable methanol
The Latest on: CO2 and hydrogen into methanol
via Google News
The Latest on: CO2 and hydrogen into methanol
- Vattenfall looks into fossil-free hydrogenon January 20, 2021 at 4:07 am
Vattenfall and fuel producer Preem have started a study into large-scale production of fossil-free hydrogen in Sweden The move represents the next phase of the partnership's attempts to produce fossil ...
- Abu Dhabi signs green hydrogen export agreement for producing H2 as fuelon January 20, 2021 at 3:04 am
The memorandum of understanding was also signed by Mubadala and ADQ earlier this week. United Arab Emirates capital city, Abu Dhabi, has jointed a three pronge ...
- Oil-Rich Abu Dhabi Targets Hydrogen as Future Export Fuelon January 19, 2021 at 2:29 pm
Abu Dhabi’s government-run oil company is teaming up with two of its sovereign wealth funds to turn the petroleum-rich emirate into an exporter of blue and green hydrogen.
- Hydrogen: Beyond hot airon January 19, 2021 at 7:31 am
Pictet Asset Management's Xavier Chollet considers how the development of hydrogen cars – with investment from governments especially around infrastructure development – will help drive growth and ...
- Canada is set to have one the world's biggest green hydrogen plantson January 19, 2021 at 7:20 am
A subsidiary of German industrial giant Thyssenkrupp has been awarded an engineering contract for the project.
- The Global Renewable Methanol Market set to Gain $4001.38 Million by the year 2028on January 19, 2021 at 3:35 am
A Triton Market Research report speculates the global renewable methanol market which garnered 3107 16 million in 2019 to grow with a CAGR of 2 85 by 2028 A recent study by Triton Market Research ...
- Mitsubishi Corporation: Commercial Operations Commence at Methanol / Dimethyl Ether Plant in Trinidad and Tobagoon January 18, 2021 at 4:25 pm
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company, Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering have teamed up with the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago and Massy Holdings, a joint ...
- Chilean firm, Mabanaft sign MoU for green-methanol-to-fuel projecton January 15, 2021 at 12:26 pm
If the project goes forward, Mabanaft could buy up to 500m litres/year of gasoline, the two companies said. HIF is building the project in Chile's Magallanes Region, in the southernmost part of the ...
- Sumitomo Chemical to tap CO2 from propylene processon January 13, 2021 at 12:21 am
Sumitomo Chemical is studying the feasibility of linking propane dehydrogenation (PDH) technology, for converting propane into propylene, to the synthesis of methanol – using PDH by-products hydrogen ...
- Scientists Just Created a Catalyst That Turns CO2 Into Jet Fuelon January 3, 2021 at 12:38 am
and splitting water to make hydrogen also uses a lot of power. Plans are already afoot to build a pilot plant that will convert CO2 into jet fuel at Rotterdam Airport in the Netherlands, but as ...
via Bing News