Promoted Cu/Zn Catalysts for the Partial Oxidation of Methanol to Produce Hydrogen

Stephen J. Schuyten, Notre Dame University, 182 Fitzpatrick Hall, Chmical Engineering, Notre Dame, IN 46556 and Eduardo E. Wolf, University of Notre Dame, 182 Fitzpatrick, Notre Dame, IN 46556.

Hydrogen for fuel cells to power vehicles or small electronic devices can be extracted from sources including natural gas, water, biomass, or other more complex hydrocarbons. Despite the numerous advantages that fuel cells provide, there are still significant difficulties including transportation, storage, and handling of hydrogen. An attractive alternative solution to problems with using molecular hydrogen involves onboard catalytic production of hydrogen from high energy liquid fuel such as methanol.

Copper/Zinc oxide based catalysts are well known to be active for methanol reforming reactions. A knowledge based combinatorial method was used to discover an active promoted Cu/Zn catalyst followed by characterization and mechanistic studies. First a series of Cu/Zn/Zr/Ce/Pd catalysts were prepared via co-precipitation with varying metal oxide compositions. Then using a three step combinatorial approach (infrared thermography, parallel reaction, individual recycle reactor) an active and selective promoted Cu/Zn catalyst was identified [1]. Characterization was carried out using BET, XRD, XPS, N2O chemiadsorption, and XAS methods.

A preliminary model based on Langmuir-Hinshelwood kinetics will be also be presented in which four competing reactions form the basis of a reaction network. The model considers six major product and reactant species from the partial oxidation of methanol reaction: methanol, oxygen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, water, and carbon monoxide. The relative concentration of product species can be predicted given reactant concentration and reactor temperature within a specified range.

References: 1.Schuyten S., and Wolf E.E., Catalysis Leters 106 (1-2): 7-14 JAN 2006