How do new efficient materials open the door for green transition in the chemical industry?
Methanol also has the potential to become a future energy carrier where, for example, aviation fuel can be produced using captured carbon dioxide and hydrogen from the electrolysis of water instead of using natural gas. A future green transformation of the chemical industry, similar to the one with green steel, where wind or solar energy drives electrolytic cells is, therefore, a possibility.
"The challenge has been to experimentally investigate the catalyst surface with surface-sensitive methods under real reaction conditions at relatively high pressures and temperatures. Those conditions have for many years not been achievable and different hypotheses about zinc being available as oxide, metallic, or in alloy with copper arose but could not be unambiguously verified," says Anders Nilsson, professor of Chemical Physics at Stockholm University that conducted the research.
The research has studied the surface of a copper-zinc catalyst when carbon dioxide is reduced to methanol. A better knowledge of the catalytic process and the possibility of finding even more efficient materials is paramount for a green transition in the chemical industry.
"It is fantastic that we have been able to shed light on this complex topic of methanol formation over copper-zinc catalyst after many years of effort," says Peter Amann, first author of the publication.
Methanol is currently one of the most important petrochemical basic chemicals, with an annual production of 110 million tonnes, and can be converted into tens of thousands of different products and used for the manufacture of, for example, plastics, detergents, pharmaceuticals, and fuels. Methanol also has the potential to become a future energy carrier where, for example, aviation fuel can be produced using captured carbon dioxide and hydrogen from the electrolysis of water instead of using natural gas. A future green transformation of the chemical industry, similar to the one with green steel, where wind or solar energy drives electrolytic cells is, therefore, a possibility.
"We have succeeded using our instrument to demonstrate that zinc is alloyed with copper right at the surface and this provides special atomic sites where methanol is created from carbon dioxide," says Chris Goodwin, a researcher in Chemical Physics at Stockholm University. "During industrial processes, a small amount of carbon monoxide is mixed in, which prevents the formation of zinc oxide from carbon dioxide."
"To have our Stockholm instrument at one of the brightest x-ray sources in the world at PETRA III in Hamburg has been crucial to conduct the study," says Patrick Lömker, Postdoc at Stockholm University. "We can now imagine the future with even brighter sources when the machine upgrades to PETRA IV."
"We now have the tools to conduct research leading to possible other catalyst materials that can be used better to fit together with electrolysis-produced hydrogen for the green transition of the chemical industry, which today is completely fossil-based and accounts for 8% of the worldwide carbon dioxide emissions," says Anders Nilsson.
Some of the similar challenges of green transition in the chemical industry will be presented at the 11th Flowtech China! Over the three days, the event will mainly gather visitors, exhibitors, and experts from the chemical/ petrochemical industry, pump and valve distributors, experts for water supply and drainage design, water treatment, environmental engineering, and wastewater plant management, as well as water companies.
The exhibition is complemented by forums and product launch events delivered by prominent policy-makers and green-tech industry experts. Despite the pandemic outbreak in Shanghai, we are confident that this year’s edition of Flowtech China will prove to be a real success.
The year 2022 is an exceptional year for Shanghai and China -- we can expect that the aftermath of the pandemic will cause industry and market rapid transformations. With new challenges, this year has also brought many possibilities and uncertainties – but the impact of the pandemic has even reinforced the development of the chemical and pump and valve industry as interest in water-related research and progressive design solutions have increased.
After a decade, Flowtech China (Shanghai) has gained recognition as one of the leading exhibitions for pumps and valves, and together with AQUATECH CHINA, it’s growing into one of the largest events for the water industry in China. After all these years, the aim of the organizer remains to balance supply and demand effectively and to showcase the upstream and downstream supply chain of the pump and valve industry.
The annual event, which draws thousands of people, is organized through the combined efforts of Amsterdam RAI and Shanghai CHC Expo Co., Ltd., and many supporting associations.
In case you want to learn more about the Stockholm research, please visit https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/05/220505143717.htm