Advertisement Advertisement
Advertisement Advertisement

Novel photocatalytic method converts biopolyols and sugars into methanol and syngas

In China, a research group led by Professor Feng Wang from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences recently developed a photocatalytic method for the conversion of biopolyols and sugars to methanol and syngas.

Methanol and syngas act as the platform chemical connecting the biorefinery and petrochemical industry. a research group led by Professor Feng Wang from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences recently developed a photocatalytic method for the conversion of biopolyols and sugars to methanol and syngas (image courtesy Min Wang).

Methanol is considered to be one of the most promising clean liquid fuels for the future and one that can be deployed on a large scale. In addition, it is a fundamental chemical feedstock used for industrial production of ethylene and propylene. Currently, methanol is industrially produced from fossil sources – natural gas and coal.

Production of methanol from renewable and abundant carbon resources other than fossil sources is seen as a promising route. The bio-derived syngas to fabricate biomethanol is traditionally produced via gasification at high temperatures (700-1000 oC).

The process usually generates a mixture of carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrocarbons and deficient in hydrogen (H2) as well as generating potential contaminants such as coke, char, and tar.

Novel photocatalytic method

In the current study, supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, the researchers converted biomass-derived polyols and sugars into methanol and syngas (CO+H2) via ultraviolet (UV) light irradiation at room temperature. The bio-syngas could be further used for the synthesis of methanol.

Cellulose and even raw wood sawdust can be converted into methanol or syngas after hydrogenolysis or hydrolysis pretreatment.

The researchers also found that Cu dispersed on titanium oxide nanorods (TNR) rich in defects effectively promoted selective C-C bond cleavage that produced methanol. Using this process, methanol was obtained from glycerol with the co-production of H2.

A syngas with CO selectivity up to 90 percent in the gas phase was obtained by controlling the energy band structure of Cu/TNR. The gas product could be facially tuned from CO2 to CO by controlling the energy band structure of Cu/TNR.

The results of the study have been presented in a paper titled “Photo splitting of bio-polyols and sugars to methanol and syngas” and published in Nature Communications.

We're using cookies. Read more