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Newly discovered catalyst could lead to the low-cost production of clean methanol
Date:3/2/2014

mputer had made the right choice. At high temperatures, nickel-gallium produced more methanol than the conventional copper-zinc-aluminum catalyst, and considerably less of the carbon monoxide byproduct.

"You want to make methanol, not carbon monoxide," Chorkendorff said. "You also want a catalyst that's stable and doesn't decompose. The lab tests showed that nickel-gallium is, in fact, a very stable solid."

While these results show promise, a great deal of work lies ahead. "We'd like to make the catalyst a little more clean," Chorkendorff added. "If it contains just a few nanoparticles of pure nickel, the output drops quite a bit, because pure nickel is lousy at synthesizing methanol. In fact, it makes all sorts of chemical byproducts that you don't want."

Nickel is relatively abundant, and gallium, although more expensive, is widely used in the electronics industry. This suggests that the new catalyst could eventually be scaled up for industrial use, according to the authors. But to make methanol synthesis a truly carbon-neutral process will require overcoming many additional hurdles, they noted.


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Contact: Mark Shwartz
mshwartz@stanford.edu
650-723-9296
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert  

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