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Locally produced methanol moves a step closer

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Posted June 16, 2014
Image source: Technical University of Denmark

Image source: Technical University of Denmark

Assistant Professor Christian Danvad Damsgaard from DTU Physics and DTU Cen has received nearly 2.6 million DKK for the development of two new catalysts. The catalysts will be used to produce methanol locally, ultimately perhaps right next to the industrial plants and private homes that need the fuel.

Today methanol is produced in large central plants. The reason for this is that the catalysts used for methanol production, only work under conditions that are so extreme that it requires large facilities to create the proper reaction conditions.

Now The Danish Council for Independent Research (DFF) granted Assistant Professor Christian Danvad Damsgaard from DTU Physics and DTU Cen 2.592.000 DKK for the development of two new methanol catalysts that can operate in small, decentralized plants. This moves local production of methanol from companies, private homes or others who need the energy-dense fuel, a step closer.

New catalysts can make methanol production more efficient
In the project ‘Structure-activity relations in novel catalysts for methanol synthesis Decentralized’, Christian Damsgaard and his colleagues focus on the two catalysts nickel-gallium (Ni-Ga) and palladium-gallium (Pd-Ga). Unfortunately both catalysts have the disadvantage, just as the current copper-zinc (Cu-Zn) catalyst, that they simultaneously catalyse the formation of not only methanol but also the so called ‘reverse Water Gas Shift reaction’ (rWGS), which lowers the methanol output.

– However, Ni-Ga and Pd-Ga have the advantage that the active sites for respectively methanol and rWGS are located at different positions on the catalysts, while the same active site on the Cu-Zn catalyst catalyses both products. This led us to believe that we can turn down the competing active site on Ni-Ga and Pd-Ga and thus increase the methanol output, Christian explains and elaborates:

– To understand how we can strengthen the good sites and remove the bad sites, we need to examine the relationship between catalyst performance and structure.

Source: Technical University of Denmark

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