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New Findings could lead to Greener Methanol Production

A small methane molecule (upper left) approaches the active site of an iron-containing zeolite.
(Image credit: Benjamin Snyder)
Sep 20 2016

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Announcements, Faculty, In the News
A team of Stanford chemists led by Professor Ed Solomon, the Monroe E. Spaght Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences and Professor of Photon Science, and graduate student, Benjamin Snyder, has unraveled a longstanding mystery that brings them one step closer to a cleaner, more energy-efficient way to make methanol, an important industrial chemical used in products such as paints, plastics and glues.
Scientists have known for decades that certain zeolites, an ordinary crystalline material, have an outstanding ability to convert methane into methanol at room temperature, but, up until recently, the process for conversion was unclear. This new found understanding of an efficient catalytic process for converting methane into methanol could have far-reaching economic implications.
Former Stanford postdoctoral researcher Pieter Vanelderen, now at KU Leuven, is co-lead author of the study. Other authors are Lars Böttger of Stanford, and Max Bols, Simon Hallaert, Liviu Ungur, Kristine Pierloot, Robert Schoonheydt and Bert Sels of KU Leuven.
Funding was provided by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Research Foundation–Flanders in Belgium.