Direct Oxidation of Methane to Methanol Catalyst


Reference #: 01414

The University of South Carolina is offering licensing opportunities for a Direct Oxidation of Methane to Methanol Catalyst


The increasing supply of natural gas and the resulting increased cost differential between natural gas and petrochemicals that can be derived from natural gas make the development of efficient heterogeneous catalysts for transforming methane into value-added fuels and chemicals an appealing proposition. Direct oxidation of methane to methanol with molecular oxygen is the economically preferred approach for valorizing methane relative to indirect oxidation processes involving the energy-intensive syngas production or the use of other (more expensive or corrosive) oxidants. Particularly the utilization of stranded gas that is currently flared at shale oil wells requires small scale processes that employ direct methane to methanol catalysts using molecular oxygen. Despite active research for many decades, no economically viable direct methane to methanol process has been developed on an industrial scale.

Invention Description:

This invention is a heterogeneous catalyst able to activate methane and oxygen. Activation occurs at temperatures as low as 200 C. The catalyst is relatively inert towards methanol activation such that high single pass conversions are possible. It is proposed that this can be a promising catalyst for MTM with appreciable activity and selectivity. This catalyst eases the MTM process.

Potential Applications:

Direct, catalytic oxidation of methane to methanol (MTM) with molecular oxygen is a highly desirable process to manufacture sellable methanol. Methanol is used in a variety of applications from internal combustion engines to manufacturing formaldehyde.

Advantages and Benefits:

A multifunctional catalyst is created. One active site activates molecular oxygen which the noble metal atom together with the adsorbed oxygen activates methane. Due to favorable possibly electrostatic interactions, activation of the reaction product methanol is inhibited.

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Michael Cantelmi
Patent Administrator
University of South Carolina
Andreas Heyden
Yongjie Xi
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