As a possible energy source for fuel cells or a substitute for gasoline, methanol is increasingly drawing attention beyond its importance as a feedstock for chemical industry. It can be stored much more efficiently and cheaply than hydrogen and could be distributed by way of the existing network of fuelling stations.
The disadvantage is the truly complex synthesis of methanol from natural gas via a detour through synthesis gas. One interesting alternative that was pursued and then abandoned is known as the direct low-temperature oxidation of methane to methanol.
A team led by Ferdi Schüth at the Max Plank Institute of Coal Research in Mülheim (Germany) and Markus Antonietti at the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam-Golm (Germany) has now developed a novel catalyst. As the researchers report in the journal Angewandte Chemie, this could provide a second wind, if not a major breakthrough, for this process.
“The development of catalyst systems for the direct low-temperature oxidation of methane to methanol has been one of the major challenges in catalysis over the last decades,” says Schüth. The problem is that the bonds in methane are very strong and difficult to break. In addition, under the reaction conditions required, methanol has the tendency to react further to form carbon dioxide. The process thus requires not only highly active but also highly selective catalysts.
One breakthrough was the development of a platinum complex by a research group led by Roy Periana. This complex catalyzes the low-temperature oxidation of methane in concentrated sulfuric acid at temperatures around 200 °C to form methyl sulfate—which can be converted into methanol—in good yield and high selectivity. Despite highly promising results, the complex separation and difficult recycling of this dissolved catalyst, among other things, hampered the commercial application of this process. Development proceeded to the pilot-plant stage before being abandoned. “A solid catalyst that can be easily separated could make such a process viable on a small scale, making possible the efficient, decentralized consumption of natural gas,” says Schüth.
The German researchers have now been able to develop such a solid catalyst, whose high reactivity and selectivity, and its outstanding stability through numerous recycling steps, have raised hopes of its industrial implementation. “Our development is based on a recently discovered class of high-performance polymers,” explains Anonietti. Polymerization of a ring-shaped molecule, an aromatic nitrile, results in a network known to chemists as a “covalent triazine-based framework”, abbreviated as CTF. Loading this substance with platinum results in a highly active, easily separated, and recyclable catalyst.
Author: Ferdi Schüth, Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung (Germany), http://www.mpi-muelheim.mpg.de/kofo/mpikofo_home.html
Title: Solid Catalysts for the Selective Low-Temperature Oxidation of Methane to Methanol
Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2009, 48, No. 37, 6909–6912, doi: 10.1002/anie.200902009
Ferdi Schüth | Angewandte Chemie
Newly designed molecule binds nitrogen
23.02.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Atomic Design by Water
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy