Researchers unravel the lively part in catalytic carbon dioxide discount to methanol

The mystery solved about the active phase in catalytic carbon dioxide reduction to methanol
Figure illustrates a Cu floor lined with small quantity of Zn probed with photoelectron spectroscopy throughout response of CO2, CO and H2 to methanol. Credit: Stockholm University

Researchers at Stockholm University have for the primary time been in a position to research the floor of a copper-zinc catalyst when carbon dioxide is decreased to methanol. The outcomes are printed within the scientific journal Science. A greater data of the catalytic course of and the opportunity of discovering much more environment friendly supplies opens the door for a inexperienced transition within the chemical trade.

Methanol is at present one of the vital necessary petrochemical primary chemical compounds, with an annual manufacturing of 110 million metric tons, and might be transformed into tens of 1000’s of various merchandise and used for the manufacture of, for instance, plastics, detergents, prescription drugs and fuels. Methanol additionally has the potential to change into a future vitality service the place, for instance, aviation gas might be produced utilizing captured carbon dioxide and hydrogen from electrolysis of water as a substitute of utilizing pure gasoline. A future inexperienced transformation of the chemical trade, much like the one with inexperienced metal, the place wind or photo voltaic vitality drives electrolytic cells is subsequently a risk.

“The challenge has been to experimentally investigate the catalyst surface with surface-sensitive methods under real reaction conditions at relatively high pressures and temperatures. Those conditions have for many years not been achievable and different hypotheses about zinc being available as oxide, metallic or in alloy with copper arose but could not be unambiguously verified,” says Anders Nilsson, professor of chemical physics at Stockholm University.

“It is fantastic that we have been able to shed light into this complex topic of methanol formation over copper-zinc catalyst after many years of effort,” says Peter Amann, first creator of the publication.

“What is special is that we have built a photoelectron spectroscopy instrument in Stockholm that allows studies of catalyst surfaces under high pressures and thereby directly been able to observe what happens when the reaction takes place,” says David Degerman, Ph.D. pupil in chemical physics at Stockholm University. “We have opened a new door into catalysis with our new instrument.”

“We have succeeded using our instrument to demonstrate that zinc is alloyed with copper right at the surface and this provides special atomic sites where methanol is created from carbon dioxide,” says Chris Goodwin, researcher in Chemical Physics at Stockholm University. “During industrial processes, a small amount of carbon monoxide is mixed in, which prevents the formation of zinc oxide from carbon dioxide.”

“To have our Stockholm instrument at one of the brightest X-ray sources in the world at PETRA III in Hamburg has been crucial to conduct the study,” says Patrick Lömker, Postdoc at Stockholm University. “We can now imagine the future with even brighter sources when the machine upgrades to PETRA IV.”

“We now have the tools to conduct research leading to possible other catalyst materials that can be used better to fit together with electrolysis-produced hydrogen for the green transition of the chemical industry, which today is completely fossil-based and accounts for 8% of the world-wide carbon dioxide emissions,” says Anders Nilsson.

Methanol synthesis: Insights into the construction of an enigmatic catalyst

More info:
Peter Amann et al, The state of zinc in methanol synthesis over a Zn/ZnO/Cu(211) mannequin catalyst, Science (2022). DOI: 10.1126/science.abj7747.

Researchers unravel the lively part in catalytic carbon dioxide discount to methanol (2022, May 5)
retrieved 5 May 2022

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