Alkali Earth Metal Molybdates as Catalysts for the Selective Oxidation of Methanol to Formaldehyde — Selectivity, Activity, and Stability

Joachim Thrane*, Lars Fahl Lundegaard, Pablo Beato, Uffe Vie Mentzel, Max Thorhauge, Anker Degn Jensen, Martin Høj

*Corresponding author for this work

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Alkali earth metal molybdates (MMoO4, M = Mg, Ca, Sr, and Ba) were investigated as catalysts for the selective oxidation of methanol to formaldehyde in the search for more stable alternatives to the current industrial iron molybdate catalyst. The catalysts were prepared by either sol-gel synthesis or co-precipitation with both stoichiometric ratio (Mo:M = 1.0) and 10 mol% to 20 mol% excess Mo (Mo:M = 1.1 to 1.2). The catalysts were characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD), nitrogen physisorption, Raman spectroscopy, temperature programmed desorption of CO2 (CO2-TPD), and inductively coupled plasma (ICP). The catalytic performance of the catalysts was measured in a lab-scale, packed bed reactor setup by continuous operation for up to 100 h on stream at 400 °C. Initial selectivities towards formaldehyde of above 97% were achieved for all samples with excess molybdenum oxide at MeOH conversions between 5% and 75%. Dimethyl ether (DME) and dimethoxymethane (DMM) were the main byproducts, but CO (0.1%–2.1%) and CO2 (0.1%–0.4%) were also detected. It was found that excess molybdenum oxide evaporated from all the catalysts under operating conditions within 10 to 100 h on stream. No molybdenum evaporation past the point of stoichiometry was detected.
Original languageEnglish
Article number82
Issue number1
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Formox process
  • Selective oxidation
  • Formaldehyde
  • Molybdate
  • Methanol
  • Heterogeneous catalysis

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