Scientists have found a way to produce methanol – an important chemical often used as fuel in vehicles – using oxygen in the air, an advance that may lead to cleaner, greener industrial processes worldwide.
Methanol is currently produced by breaking down natural gas at high temperatures into hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide before reassembling them – expensive and energy-intensive processes known as ‘steam reforming’ and ‘methanol synthesis.’
However, researchers from Cardiff University in the U.K. have discovered they can produce methanol from methane through simple catalysis that allows methanol production at low temperatures using oxygen and hydrogen peroxide.
At present global natural gas production is about 2.4 billion tonnes per annum and 4% of this is flared into the atmosphere – roughly 100 million tonnes.
The approach of using natural gas could use this “waste” gas saving, saving carbon dioxide emissions.