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Energy-saving powder
Date:11/11/2009

ts in Potsdam. "This solid is so porous that the surface of a gram is approximately equivalent in size to a fifth of a football field," says Markus Antonietti. The researchers in Mlheim insert platinum atoms into the voluminous lattice of the CTF. Thanks to the large surface area, the catalyst oxidizes the methane efficiently to methanol, as it offers the methane a large area in which to react when the chemists immerse it in oxidizing sulphuric acid, force methane into the acid and heat the mixture to 215 Celsius under pressure. Methanol is created from more than three-quarters of the converted gas.

A catalyst manufactured by the American chemist Roy Periana more than ten years ago from platinum and simple nitrogenous bipyrimidine also effectively creates methanol, but only supports the reaction in a soluble form. This means that the catalyst - which chemists refer to as a homogenous catalyst - subsequently needs to be separated off in a laborious and somewhat wasteful process. "It's much easier with our heterogeneous catalyst," says Ferdi Schth. The chemists in Mlheim filter out the powdery platinum and CTF catalyst, and then separate the acid and methanol in a simple distillation.

The catalyst developed by the Max Planck chemists probably uses the same mechanism as the Periana catalyst and was indeed inspired by it. "When I saw the structure of CTF, I noticed the elements which correspond to its bipyrimidine ligands," says Schth. "That's when I had the idea of manufacturing the solid catalyst."

To get closer to a large-scale technical application, he and his colleagues are now attempting to enable the process to work with reactants in gaseous rather than soluble form. "We are also looking for similar, even more effective catalysts," says Schth. "We have already found more efficient homogenous catalysts with ligands other than bipyrmidine." They are now using these as a model for simple, easy to manage catalysts like the CTF and platinum
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Contact: Professor Ferdi Schueth
schueth@mpi-muelheim.mpg.de
49-208-306-2373
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert

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