A group of researchers at the Max Planck Institute has come up with a new catalyst to produce methanol from methane that is not only relatively easy but cost-effective.
Methane is a hydrocarbon gas used to produce various industrial chemicals and is burned to release heat and to power vehicles and electrical generators. Transportation — usually within “natural gas” — and conversion of methane can be rather expensive and/or inefficient. Methane is also the chief source of “methanol”. Much like methane, methanol’s uses include the production of various chemicals and combustion as fuel. But, methanol is much easier to transport, which makes it preferable is some cases.
This new process to convert methane to methanol is less complex and bottom-line cheaper than the usual methods. While both methane and methanol have their plusses and minuses, figuring out cheaper and more efficient technologies is always a good thing. The Max Planck team is still working on a more large-scale application, but meanwhile they have made other discoveries that may result in additional catalytic advances.