Liquid Phase Methanol and Dimethyl Ether Synthesis from Syngas


The Liquid Phase Methanol Synthesis (LPMeOHTM) process has been investigated in our laboratories since 1982The reaction chemistry of liquid phase methanol synthesis over commercial Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 catalysts, established for diverse feed gas conditions including H2-rich, CO-rich, CO2-rich, and CO-free environments, is predominantly based on the CO2 hydrogenation reaction and the forward water-gas shift reaction. Important aspects of the liquid phase methanol synthesis investigated in this in-depth study include global kinetic rate expressions, external mass transfer mechanisms and rates, correlation for the overall gas-to-liquid mass transfer rate coefficient, computation of the multicomponent phase equilibrium and prediction of the ultimate and isolated chemical equilibrium compositions, thermal stability analysis of the liquid phase methanol synthesis reactor, investigation of pore diffusion in the methanol catalyst, and elucidation of catalyst deactivation/regeneration. These studies were conducted in a mechanically agitated slurry reactor as well as in a liquid entrained reactor. A novel liquid phase process for co-production of dimethyl ether (DME) and methanol has also been developed. The process is based on dual-catalytic synthesis in a single reactor stage, where the methanol synthesis and water gas shift reactions takes place over Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 catalysts and the in-situ methanol dehydration reaction takes place over γ-Al2O3 catalyst. Co-production of DME and methanol can increase the single-stage reactor productivity by as much as 80%. By varying the mass ratios of methanol synthesis catalyst to methanol dehydration catalyst, it is possible to co-produce DME and methanol in any fixed proportion, from 5% DME to 95% DME. Also, dual catalysts exhibit higher activity, and more importantly these activities are sustained for a longer catalyst on-stream life by alleviating catalyst deactivation.


Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Dimethyl Ether (DME); Methanol; Alcohol; Diesel Fuel; LPG; Fuel Cell; Olefins; Aerosol; Syngas; Natural Gas; Coal; Biomass; Methanol; Oxygenates; Ethers; Kinetics; Thermodynamics; Slurry; Liquid Phase; Catalyst Deactivation

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Diesel fuels
Dimethyl ether
Fuel cells
Liquefied petroleum gas
Natural gas

Document Type

Article - Journal

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