Robert Franz

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Van der Maasweg 9, 2629 HZ,  Delft
Room: E2.360
Tel: *31 (0)15-2784413

Metal Organic Frameworks for the direct synthesis of methanol from methane

The direct conversion of methane to methanol has been described as a “dream reaction” [1]. Methane is a highly available raw material in the form of natural gas. Methanol is an industrially important chemical for many reactions. However, the stability of methane represents a huge obstacle for a controlled reaction of methane to methanol. In the chemical industry this issue is dealt with by first transforming methane into synthesis gas (CO + H2) and the syngas to methanol. While the conversion to syngas is well-developed on an industrial level (see e.g. [2]), there are some drawbacks. As an indirect route, it is inherently less efficient than a direct conversion. Additionally, the reaction conditions for syngas production only make this process attractive on a large scale [3].

To solve these issues, the aim of this project is to develop a catalyst for the direct synthesis of methanol from methane at mild temperatures (up to approx. 200 °C). The continuous methanol production has already been reported in literature, but only at very low levels of conversion [4]. The focus of this project are metal organic frameworks (MOFs). This term refers to structures consisting of metal ions connected by organic linkers. The advantage of MOFs is their large range of possible modifications compared to e.g. zeolites, another common group of heterogeneous catalysts. Besides testing different catalysts, spectroscopy will also be used to determine the active sites and their interactions to allow for further optimization.  


Funding by the NWO program CatC1Chem (a public-private program of NWO in cooperation with BASF, SABIC and Sasol) is gratefully acknowledged. 


1. Ott, J., et al., Methanol, in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. 2000, Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA.

2. Aasberg-Petersen, K., et al., Natural gas to synthesis gas – Catalysts and catalytic processes. Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering, 2011. 3(2): p. 423-459.

3. Olivos-Suarez, A.I., et al., Strategies for the Direct Catalytic Valorization of Methane Using Heterogeneous Catalysis: Challenges and Opportunities. ACS Catalysis, 2016. 6(5): p. 2965-2981.

4. Narsimhan, K., et al., Catalytic Oxidation of Methane into Methanol over Copper-Exchanged Zeolites with Oxygen at Low Temperature. ACS Central Science, 2016. 2(6): p. 424-429.