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Researchers report one-pot catalytic conversion of cellulose to methanol

Methanol—a bio-based platform molecule that can be used directly as a fuel or fuel additive, and can also be used to produce bulk chemicals and drop-in fuels—is currently mainly produced from methane and coal via an indirect syngas route. Now, a team of researchers in China reports a novel approach for the sustainable production of methanol from the catalytic conversion of cellulose over a series of non-precious Cu-based catalysts, including Cu-TiO2-Al2O3(Cu-TiAl), Cu-ZnO-Al2O3 (Cu-ZnAl), and Cu-ZrO2-Al2O3.

In a paper in the journal Fuel, the researchers report the effects of catalyst supports, Cu loading, and reaction conditions on the methanol yield.

They found that 5%Cu-TiAl showed the highest methanol yield of 30.7 wt% during catalytic conversion of cellulose at 250 °C and 1Mpa H2 for 10 h.

The catalysts were characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Brunner − Emmett − Teller analysis (BET), high-resolution transmission electron microscope (HR-TEM), and temperature-programmed desorption of ammonia (TPD) to reveal the possible catalyst structure–reactivity relationship of these Cu-based catalysts.

It is found that the unique xOTi–Cu–AlOx interfacial structure and high acidity of 5%Cu-TiAl are beneficial for the selective cleavage of the C–C and C–O bonds within cellulose to form methanol.

This work provides a simple and efficient method to produce cellulosic methanol with relatively low energy consumption.

—Wang et al.


  • Zhihao Wang, Shengpeng Xia, Chenyang Wang, Chaoxian Cui, Shunshun Kang, Anqing Zheng, Kuo Zeng, Zengli Zhao (2020) “Sustainable production of methanol from one-pot catalytic conversion of cellulose over non-precious copper-based catalysts,” Fuel doi: 10.1016/j.fuel.2022.123882.



Corn stalks to methanol to gasoline

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