Effective hydrogenation of carbonates to produce methanol over a ternary Cu/Zn/Al catalyst

Jiachen Li, Liguo Wang, Xiang Hui, Chanjuan Zhang, Yan Cao, Shuang Xu, Peng He, Huiquan Li

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Methanol synthesized from carbonate hydrogenation is of great importance for CO2 utilization indirectly. Herein, a series of Cu/Zn/Al heterogeneous catalysts were prepared by co-precipitation with a synchronous aging step, and were applied for hydrogenation of diethyl carbonate (DEC) to produce methanol. Furthermore, the catalysts were characterized by physicochemical methods, such as N2 adsorption, ICP-OES, N2O titration, SEM, TEM, XRD, H2-TPR and XPS in detail. Higher copper concentration led to a higher ratio of bulk CuOx species in the calcined samples, which resulted in different copper species distribution after the reduction process. Structure activity relationship analysis indicated that the balance of surface Cu0 and Cu+ species influenced the formation rate of methanol. A higher proportion of Cu+ to (Cu+ + Cu0) was conductive to methanol formation, while excessive Cu0 site density played a negative influence on the methanol synthesized from DEC. Cu/Zn/Al with a 45.2% weight fraction of copper showed better performance with a total methanol formation rate of 131.0 mg gcat.-1 h-1. The reaction temperature and reaction time could obviously affect the reaction performance and the results suggested that 200 °C and 6 h were suitable. Furthermore, the long-term stability and activity of the catalyst was also studied on a fixed bed, and the yield of total methanol reached to 88.5% and the selectivity of total methanol gradually decreased to 74.0% within 200 h, which could be attributed to the detrimental influence derived from the increase of Cu0. The reaction pathways involved in the hydrogenation of DEC process were proposed. The substance scope was also extended to other carbonates and the catalyst exhibited superior catalytic performance toward linear carbonates. This work provided insights into carbonate hydrogenation over an effective Cu/Zn/Al catalyst, which could be utilized into upgrading CO2 indirectly to produce commodity methanol under relatively mild reaction conditions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRSC Advances
Issue number22
Pages (from-to)13083-13094
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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