Process 3: Single step with electricity to create alcohols and acids


Short-chain C1-C4 alcohols are basic chemicals used by the chemical industry. The C1 alcohol metha- nol, for example, is further processed to create formaldehyde, acetic acid, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), methyl methacrylate, methyl chloride, and methylamines. There are currently more than 100 commercial methanol plants in use, with a total capacity of 80 million tonne per year. A new single- step high-pressure electrolysis process was developed that produces methanol and C2-C4 alcohols from CO2 and water. In this process, CO2 is not dissolved in water; instead, water is dissolved under pressure in supercritical CO2. The innovation here is that the alcohols are produced in a single process step by di- rectly reducing CO2. The electrochemical reduction of supercritical CO2 has clear advantages over using CO2 in water, such as shifting the phase balance and achieving higher yields.

The “Single step with electricity” process provides the following innovative solutions for industrial applications:

  • Catalyst preparation up to kg scale
  • Continuous manufacturing of electrodes up to 50 cm wide
  • Surface coating of electrodes with catalytically active material, using a spray process
  • High-pressure reactors for electrosynthesis (40 ml to 2 l; 150 bar) including online gas chromatography
  • Process with high CO2 conversion rates that avoids hydrogen formation