The Role of Catalysis in Replacing Oil by Renewable Methanol Using Carbon dioxide Capture and Recycling (CCR)
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- Olah, G.A. Catal Lett (2013) 143: 983. doi:10.1007/s10562-013-1096-1
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Fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) are nature’s major gift to humankind. Use of coal followed by petroleum oil and natural gas since the dawn of the industrial revolution in the eighteenth century brought us into a modern and increasingly technologically adept society. Limited resources, primarily depleting petroleum oil reserves and increasing world population and its demand for better standard of living, has already led to the end of cheap petroleum oil. Despite new oil discoveries, better technology, savings, efficient use etc., we must in the following decades wean ourselves out of our dependence on oil. Synthetic oil and hydrocarbons derived from coal and natural gas based on Fischer–Tropsch syngas chemistry have been at times used since the 1920s but the processes are costly, complex and limited. I have with my colleagues proposed and developed a new “Methanol Economy” approach based on metgas (CO–2H2) to methanol via bi-reforming or oxidative bi-reforming of shale or natural gas as well as carbon dioxide capture and recycling. Methanol can serve as a fuel and feed-stock to replace petroleum oil. Heterogeneous catalysis is playing key role in this fast developing field, which serves to achieve the quest for petroleum oil independence, one of the major challenges of our time. The scope and progress toward renewable methanol chemistry from the laboratory to practical industrial use are discussed.