New catalyst improves carbon dioxide, methanol process

Avatar By Le Williams | 2 years ago

Researchers at the Dallas University of Technology and various institutions have collaboratively advanced the process of converting carbon dioxide into methanol by developing a new catalyst that uses a specific formulation of palladium and copper.

A key factor in converting carbon dioxide to methanol is finding a good catalyst, allowing methanol to be produced in high selectivity at an efficient rate.

Notably, the methanol contains four parts hydrogen, one part oxygen, and one part carbon.

In the palladium-to-copper atomic ratio range of 0.3 to 0.4, combining palladium and copper yielded the most efficient conversion of methanol from carbon dioxide using nanoparticles of the catalyst dispersed on a porous support material that increased the surface area of the catalyst.

With a catalyst the size of a walnut, the internal surface area of the catalyst would cover about the area of a football field.

Chunshan Song, professor of fuel science, chemical engineering, and director of the Earth and Mineral Sciences’ (EMS) Energy Institute and various university researchers found that the new formulations, using the precise atomic ratio of the two metals, increased the rate of methanol formation by three times over palladium alone and by four times over copper alone, representing a significant improvement over previous methods.

“Our current energy system largely relies on carbon-based fossil energies,” Song said. “Even renewable fuels such as biomass, biogas and organic waste, they are all carbon-based. But in the future, where does carbon come from?”

Additionally, Song explained his passion towards the process and advantage of using carbon from carbon dioxide and recycling the elements. The team believes that global development towards the creating a sustainable carbon-based energy cycle enables stabilization of the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere.