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Pyrochlore-Based Catalysts for Syngas-Derived Alcohol Synthesis

Date Posted
USPN 9,150,476; USPN 9,598,644


This technology provides an advantageous means to convert syngas into a class of chemicals known as higher oxygenates, as well as other long-chain hydrocarbons. Research is currently active on this technology "Method of CO and/or CO2 Hydrogenation Using Doped Mixed Metal Oxides." This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.


Industry has been increasingly attracted to the process of converting syngas from natural gas, coal, or biomass into various classes of chemicals such as C2+ (ethanol), known as higher oxygenates. The attraction stems from the fact that syngas can be used to produce a wide range of products, including liquid transportation fuels and a variety of chemical intermediates. These chemicals are commonly used as solvents, fuel additives, and neat fuels.

To attain higher oxygenate and long-chain hydrocarbon synthesis from syngas, the major technical challenge is to develop a catalyst with high selectivity towards carbon chain growth and/or CO insertion, higher syngas conversion at lower temperatures and pressures, and high stability in a reducing environment.

Researchers for this invention discovered that the pyrochlore material they developed addresses the above issues and improves the conversion process. Their pyrochlore material was found to interact with supported metals, such as Rh, to form long-chain and oxygenated hydrocarbon products from syngas with selectivities not achieved with other support systems that do not have the pyrochlore structure.

Researchers found that the unique feature of the pyrochlore material is its ability to isomorphically substitute various elements that can interact at the surface with clusters of metal atoms. The properties of the pyrochlore can be used to tailor the degree and type of interaction with the active metal to catalyze the conversion of syngas to specific end products.

  • Improves the conversion of syngas from natural gas, coal, or biomass
  • Enhances the potential use of oxygenates as neat fuels or fuel additives
  • Develops a catalyst with high selectivity for higher alcohols
  • Produces by-products such as methanol, carbon dioxide, and methane
  • Hydrogen-rich syngas for solid-oxide fuel cells
  • Related chemical, advanced material, and environmental uses

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