Methanol Synthesis

Our research group has been the only academic participant of the technology pool of DOE/EPRI for the development of the liquid phase methanol synthesis process (LPMeOHTM). Research funding for this project was received from 1982 through 1993 from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). We developed major patents involving catalyst regeneration, post-treatment, and subsequent conversion to gasoline-range hydrocarbons and olefins. Other achievements include phase equilibrium study, confirmation of CO2 hydrogenation mechanism, elucidation of catalyst deactivation mechanism, analysis of pore diffusion and external mass transfer, studies on various reactor configurations, investigation of kinetics, and acquisition of scale-up data, etc. This research has served as a precursor for the single-stage dimethyl ether (DME) synthesis, selective synthesis of propylene from syngas, and the synthesis of targeted hydrocarbons via DME route. More recent research efforts in this area involves methanol and derivatives from biological feedstocks as well as smaller-scale methanol synthesis with high energy efficiency.

Dr. Lee has authored a book that covers all the theoretical as well as practical aspects of methanol synthesis in great detail:

"Methanol Synthesis Technology", CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, ISBN-0-8493-4610-X, 1990."

A large number of journal articles, proceedings papers, and published monographs and reports generated from research in this technology are available. Comprehensive research monographs authored by Dr. Lee on the subject area are:

"Research to support Liquid Phase Methanol Process Development", EPRI AP-4429, pp. 1-312, Palo Alto, CA, February 1986."

"Mass Transfer Characteristics of the Liquid Phase Methanol Synthesis Process", EPRI AP-5758, pp. 1-214, Palo Alto, CA, April 1988."

"Reaction Mechanism in Liquid-Phase Methanol Synthesis", EPRI ER/GS-6715, pp. 1-206, Palo Alto, CA, February 1990."

More recent interests and efforts in this field of R&D involve: (1) development of a novel catalytic synthesis process for methanol using CO2-rich syngas, (2) direct conversion of CO2 and H2O into transportation fuels via methanol synthesis, (3) use of syngas derived from alternate sources for methanol and dimethyl ether synthesis, (4) design and development of a small-scale energy-efficient methanol synthesis process, (5) novel catalyst for lower temperature synthesis, (6) flexible and switchable synthesis between DME and methanol, (7) robust catalyst for dirty syngas, and (8) process integration opportunities for the hypothetical methanol economy.