Inspenet, October 21, 2023.
New method to obtain methanol
A PhD study in Biological Resources Technology and Food Engineering conducted at the Faculty of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Alberta in Canada and published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, has managed to create a method to transform carbon dioxide (CO2) in methanol.
Yanet Rodríguez Herrero, using nanotechnology, has devised a process to manufacture a stable catalyst that has the ability to repel the water produced as a byproduct, which reduces energy consumption and makes the conversion more economical and efficient.
Once the method can be successfully scaled up for industrial implementation, it could mean the direct use of large quantities of captured and stored CO 2 , as well as opening up the possibility of storing liquid hydrogen . This has been noted in a statement by Aman Ullah, professor at the Faculty of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences, who supervised Herrero’s work.
This new methodology also provides opportunities to improve other catalytic chemical conversion processes that are affected by the presence of water, such as ammonia synthesis. Yanet Rodríguez Herrero mentions that a patent application has been filed for this novel process.
The transformation of other substances
Similarly, glycerol, a dense liquid substance with no color or odor, has potential for application in the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. This originates mainly as a byproduct in the production of biodiesel and in the manufacture of compounds called oleochemicals derived from oils and fats of plant and animal origin.
However, its refinement is expensive and to address this challenge, Herrero has designed a patented process aimed at transforming glycerol into monomers.
Over the course of their research, Herrero and Ullah also explored sustainability as an additional component of the conversion process. When comparing the use of a microwave heating method with conventional heat sources, they showed that microwave technology required more than 16 times less energy than traditional heat sources.
Currently, a biorefining company based in Edmonton, Canada, is using this process to make chemicals more efficiently, taking advantage of residual lipids and glycerol.
It is important to note that the research results as a whole present encouraging prospects for various industries such as energy, hydrogen, biofuels, food and chemicals, according to Ullah.