Highly active copper-ceria and copper-ceria-titania catalysts for methanol synthesis from CO2

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Science  01 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6196, pp. 546-550
DOI: 10.1126/science.1253057

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Converting CO2 into methanol by catalysis

By hydrogenating CO2, scientists can transform a greenhouse gas into methanol, a desirable fuel. Graciani et al. cast copper in the role of the highly active catalyst for this reaction by putting copper particles on cerium oxide. The interface between the cerium oxide and the copper enables the reverse water-gas shift reaction that converts CO2 into CO, which reacts more readily with hydrogen to make methanol. This result takes a step forward in innovating catalysts for this environmentally friendly process.

Science, this issue p. 546


The transformation of CO2 into alcohols or other hydrocarbon compounds is challenging because of the difficulties associated with the chemical activation of CO2 by heterogeneous catalysts. Pure metals and bimetallic systems used for this task usually have low catalytic activity. Here we present experimental and theoretical evidence for a completely different type of site for CO2 activation: a copper-ceria interface that is highly efficient for the synthesis of methanol. The combination of metal and oxide sites in the copper-ceria interface affords complementary chemical properties that lead to special reaction pathways for the CO2→CH3OH conversion.

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