Methane is a promising energy resource for the production of chemicals with high added value. However, the methane molecule’s high symmetry and low polarizability make it difficult to activate it under mild conditions. Recently, however, scientists have converted methane to formic acid with high efficiency under mild conditions.
A team of scientists from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) converted methane to formic acid (HCOOH) with high efficiency under mild conditions. Their research was published in Nano Energy.
During the experiment, chemists discovered that highly efficient and selective oxidation of methane to HCOOH could be achieved in atomically dispersed regions of Fe (iron), limited by ZSM-5 channels. The conversion reaction took place at 80 ° C. This temperature fits into the concept of “soft conditions.”
Scientists’ work is paving the way for methane conversion under mild conditions.
While methane is a group of the Earth’s main greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide and ozone, formic acid has many uses.
Formic (methanoic) acid is a chemical reagent belonging to the first row of the carboxylic group’s saturated monobasic acids. Under normal conditions, this acid is a colorless liquid with a peculiar pungent odor, which mixes well with diethyl alcohol, ethanol, and water. It is soluble in media such as benzene, glycerin, toluene, and acetone.
Formic acid is widely found naturally in its free form in plants such as needles, nettles, in many fruits, and the pungent secretions of ants and bees.
Due to its unique molecular composition, formic acid has antibacterial properties; therefore, its main field of application in the food industry (additive E236) as an antibacterial preservative agent in confectionery production, canned, and dairy products, soft drinks, and in the preparation of feed. Like tartaric acid, it can slow down the processes of decay and decay. Therefore, silage and hay treated with it are better preserved. In the textile industry, this reagent is used in wool dyeing (bleaching agent), leather tanning, and beekeeping as a parasitic agent against ticks. In the chemical industry – as a solvent in chemical reactions.
This acid has won a well-deserved place in medical practice.
Scientists have long faced the problem of utilizing methane. A new way of converting it into formic acid under mild conditions will help the environment and industry.