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CO2-to-methanol

By Paul Grad |

Researchers from Penn State University (State College, Pa.; www.psu.edu) and Dalian University of Technology (Dalian, China; www.dlut.edu.cn) have improved the CO2-to-methanol process by using a catalyst that combines copper and palladium. Using a palladium-to-copper atomic ratio range of 0.3 to 0.4, the combination yields the most efficient conversion of carbon dioxide to methanol observed to date. Nanoparticles of the catalyst are dispersed on a porous support material to greatly increase the surface area of the catalyst. According to the researchers, the new formulation increased the rate of methanol formation by three times over the rate with palladium alone and by four times the rate with copper alone. The combination of the two metals lowers the energy requirements for the reaction of carbon dioxide and hydrogen, and also alters the reaction pathways to produce more methanol with higher energy efficiency. The reaction takes place in a packed-bed reactor operating at 180 to 250°C. The maximum conversion is 24% in a single pass, but the unconverted CO2 and H2 are recycled and returned to the vessel.
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