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Catalytic Conversion of Methane to Methanol over Metal Ion-Exchanged Zeolites

Presenters Name: 
Jonathan Zheng
Co Presenters Name: 
Primary Research Mentor: 
Robert Davis
Secondary Research Mentor: 
2:00 - 3:15
Time of Presentation: 
2019 - 2:00pm to 3:15pm
Newcomb Hall Ballroom
Presentation Type: 
Presentations Academic Category: 
Grant Program Recipient: 
Double Hoo Research Grant

Methane from natural gas is a critical resource, but the difficulty of transporting natural gas has resulted in underutilization of methane. In oil wells, excess methane is flared because it is not cost-effective to capture, releasing large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. One solution is to chemically transform methane to a liquid before transporting off-site, but current conversion processes are prohibitively expensive at small scales. Recent research aims to enable the economic transport of methane by catalytically converting methane to higher-value chemicals. Copper-exchanged zeolite catalysts have been shown to convert methane to methanol under mild conditions with high selectivity in a cyclic reaction, but have inherent problems that may preclude them from seeing industrial use. The goal of this work is to develop non-copper metal zeolite catalysts for industrial-level conversion of methane to higher-value products. First, different metal zeolites were screened as catalysts. Tin-based catalysts exhibited the highest level of methane conversion. Reaction conditions for the tin catalysts were optimized by varying the activation temperature from 623 to 823 K and methane reaction temperatures from 423 to 523 K at low and high methane pressures. From the reaction with tin, methanol and an unidentified organic byproduct are formed. Depending on the value of the byproduct, the tin catalyst may become an attractive alternative to the widely-studied copper catalyst. Our next steps are to determine the byproduct’s identity, study the tin speciation to probe the nature of the active sites, and test dual-metal (copper and tin-based) catalysts.