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A new catalyst for making methane from CO2 and H2

By Paul Grad |

The Sabatier reaction, in which H2 and CO2 react at temperatures of 300–400°C in the presence of a nickel catalyst, or an alumina-supported ruthenium catalyst, is one way to reduce CO2 into methane. Until now, however, it has been difficult to find efficient, resilient catalysts with good selectivity. A promising candidate for making methane from CO2 has been developed by the research group of professor Christian Doonan at the University of Adelaide (Australia; www.adelaide.edu.au) and colleagues from CSIRO (www.csiro.au). The catalyst — a ruthenium-impregnated zirconium-based metal-organic framework (MOF) — could pave the way for producing carbon-neutral fuels. The new catalyst is based on a commercially available zirconium terephthalate MOF called UiO-66. The group used a wet impregnation method to introduce RuCl3 into the pores of the activated MOF. The catalyst was dried and activated for testing in a fixed-bed microreactor. A mixture of H2 and CO2 (with a 4-to-1 mole ratio) was flowed over the top of the catalyst. The best results were obtained at temperatures of 330–350°C and a pressure of 500 kPa. Under these conditions, the catalyst converted 96% of CO2 into methane, with 99% selectivity. The only observed byproduct…
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  • Chris Phillips

    This is an interesting development in the process to make methane. However, I see it is billed as “paving the way to make carbon-neutral fuels”. I may be missing something but this seems puzzling. To make methane you need carbon dioxide (which I guess could come from coal or natural gas burning exhaust) and you need hydrogen. But the main current source of hydrogen is….methane. You could make hydrogen by electrolysing water (with significant energy input) but then it would be better to use the hydrogen directly as a fuel rather then converting it to methane and then using this as a fuel. So where does the carbon-neutral fuel come from?

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