The Methanol Economy Project [electronic resource].
- Washington, D.C. : United States. Dept. of Energy, 2013.
Oak Ridge, Tenn. : Distributed by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information, U.S. Dept. of Energy.
- Additional Creators:
- University of Southern California
United States. Department of Energy
United States. Department of Energy. Office of Scientific and Technical Information
- The Methanol Economy Project is based on the concept of replacing fossil fuels with methanol generated either from renewable resources or abundant natural (shale) gas. The full methanol cycle was investigated in this project, from production of methanol through bromination of methane, bireforming of methane to syngas, CO₂ capture using supported amines, co-electrolysis of CO₂ and water to formate and syngas, decomposition of formate to CO₂ and H₂, and use of formic acid in a direct formic acid fuel cell. Each of these projects achieved milestones and provided new insights into their respective fields. Direct electrophilic bromination of methane to methyl bromide followed by hydrolysis to yield methanol was investigated on a wide variety of catalyst systems, but hydrolysis proved impractical for large-scale industrial application. Bireforming the correct ratio of methane, CO₂, and water on a NiO / MgO catalyst yielded the right proportion of H₂:CO (2:1) and proved to be stable for at least 250 hours of operation at 400 psi (28 atm). CO₂ capture utilizing supported polyethyleneimines yielded a system capable of adsorbing CO₂ from the air and release at nominal temperatures with negligible amine leaching. CO₂ electrolysis to formate and syngas showed considerable increases in rate and selectivity by performing the reaction in a high pressure flow electrolyzer. Formic acid was shown to decompose selectively to CO₂ and H₂ using either Ru or Ir based homogeneous catalysts. Direct formic acid fuel cells were also investigated and showed higher than 40% voltage efficiency using reduced loadings of precious metals. A technoeconomic analysis was conducted to assess the viability of taking each of these processes to the industrial scale by applying the data gathered during the experiments to approximations based on currently used industrial processes. Several of these processes show significant promise for industrial scale up and use towards improving our nation’s energy independence.
- Published through SciTech Connect.
Olah, George; Prakash, G. K.
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