Cardiff University scientists have catalyzed methanol from methane using oxygen from the air. Methanol is currently produced by breaking down natural gas at high temperatures. But researchers have discovered they can produce methanol from methane through simple catalytic action that allows methanol production at low temperatures using oxygen and hydrogen peroxide. The findings have major implications for cleaner, greener industrial processes worldwide.

Methanol is currently produced by breaking down natural gas at high temperatures into hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide before reassembling them – expensive and energy-intensive processes known as ‘steam reforming’ and ‘methanol synthesis.’

The findings, rich in industrial implication, have been published in Science.

Professor Graham Hutchings, Director of Cardiff Catalysis Institute, said, “The quest to find a more efficient way of producing methanol is a hundred years old. Our process uses oxygen – effectively a ‘free’ product in the air around us – and combines it with hydrogen peroxide at mild temperatures which require less energy.

“We have already shown that gold nanoparticles supported by titanium oxide could convert methane to methanol, but we simplified the chemistry further and took away the titanium oxide powder. The results have been outstanding,” he said. “Commercialization will take time, but our science has major implications for the preservation of natural gas reserves as fossil fuel stocks dwindle across the world.”

“At present global natural gas production is ca. 2.4 billion tons per annum and 4% of this is flared into the atmosphere – roughly 100 million tons. Cardiff Catalysis Institute’s approach to using natural gas could use this “waste” gas saving CO2 emissions. In the US there is now a switch to shale gas ,and our approach is well suited to using this gas as it can enable it to be liquefied so it can be readily transported.”

Dr. James J. Spivey, Professor of Chemical Engineering at Louisiana State University and Editor-in-Chief of Catalysis Today, said, “This research is of significant value to the scientific and industrial communities. The conversion of our shale resources into higher value intermediates like methanol provide new routes for chemical intermediates.”

Cardiff Catalysis Institute has a worldwide reputation for outstanding science. The Institute works with industry to develop new catalytic processes and promote the use of catalysis as a sustainable 21st century technology.

This is a breakthrough and disruptive technology on a large scale. While methanol isn’t a common consumer product it is a major chemical raw material. One would expect that this technology will make many methanol products less expensive as well as promote marginal priced methanol products such as fuel to be much more competitive. All pluses for consumers. Methanol is also a great way to have a near hydrogen economy without a storage issue. A welcome breakthrough indeed.


8 Comments so far

  1. Rice Husk Carbonizer on September 13, 2017 8:02 PM

    It seems great. Fuel is really important. Hoping we can discover more kinds of energy in the future.

  2. tyre to oil machine on September 18, 2017 3:04 AM

    This is indeed a breakthrough technology.It sounds great.

  3. Wood charcoal on September 19, 2017 2:58 AM

    Good page! It has provide many useful information for us. Thank you so much.

  4. charcoal carbonization furnace on September 19, 2017 3:28 AM

    I think this is a very good and groundbreaking innovation.Because our demand for fuel will be more and more.

  5. asphalt mixing plant on September 20, 2017 9:13 PM

    Good discovery, hope your renewal!

  6. rice husk charcoal on September 22, 2017 2:09 AM

    Great page! this newest invention has made a great contribution to the world. The findings have major implications for cleaner, greener industrial processes worldwide.

  7. dmm on March 14, 2018 3:00 PM

    Where does the H2O2 come from? How expensive is it? What’s the carbon cost?

  8. dmm on March 14, 2018 3:10 PM

    A quick web search shows 99% methanol is cheaper than 30% hydrogen peroxide. So this process is converting a more expensive chemical to a cheaper chemical. How is this helpful?

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