United States Patent: 5767165


We submit herein yet another Carbon Dioxide recycling process developed, jointly it seems, by USDOE scientists at the Brookhaven, NY, National Laboratory; and, by EPA scientists at their National Risk Management and Environmental Protection Research Laboratory, in North Carolina.

The two named inventors' specific affiliations aren't actually specified. Nor, is the Patent openly assigned to the good old USA. But, web-based reference sources quickly confirm their identities.

And we have, in any case, cited Brookhaven's Meyer Steinberg for you previously.

Regardless, the Carbon Dioxide recycling technology disclosed herein doesn't, to us, seem all that efficient; especially when compared to the "bi-reforming" and "tri-reforming" technologies we have documented for you, wherein Carbon Dioxide and Methane - which itself can, via the 1912 Sabatier process, be made from Carbon Dioxide - are reacted together and made to, more or less directly, synthesize higher hydrocarbons.

Based on the use of a "thermal decomposition of methane" process, the technology disclosed herein might have energy requirements that, relative to the various CO2-CH4 reforming technologies we've previously documented, put it at a disadvantage; and, the Hydrogen generation step, unnecessary in CO2-CH4 reforming, introduces an additional element of complexity.

But, another seeming drawback to the process, the by-product formation of elemental Carbon, isn't really that much of a problem, as the inventors suggest in their Abstract, and, in light of another report we're sending along today via separate dispatch.

It may, in fact, be an opportunity.

As we explain following excerpts from:


"United States Patent 5,767,165 - Converting Natural Gas and Carbon Dioxide to Methanol


Date: June, 1998


Inventors: Meyer Steinberg, NY, and Yuanji Dong, NC


Abstract: A process for the production of methanol from natural gas containing methane comprising the thermal decomposition of methane and the subsequent reaction of the resulting hydrogen gas with carbon dioxide in a catalyst containing methanol synthesis reactor to produce methanol. Alternative methods include the gasification with carbon dioxide of at least a portion of the carbon produced by the decomposing step, to produce carbon monoxide, which is then reacted with hydrogen gas to produce methanol; or the reforming of a portion of the natural gas feedstock used in the decomposing step with carbon dioxide to produce carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas, which carbon monoxide and hydrogen are then combined with additional hydrogen from the natural gas decomposing step in a methanol synthesis reactor to produce methanol.

Claims:  A process for the production of methanol from methane (by thermally) decomposing said methane to produce hydrogen gas and elemental carbon; wherein this decomposing step is comprised of: 

Bubbling the methane through a bath comprised of a molten material operating at a temperature of at least 800C and a pressure of 1 to 10 atm.; (and) cracking said methane through the use of said molten material such that elemental carbon and hydrogen gas are formed; (and removing) the hydrogen gas from the top of the bath; (and) collecting the elemental carbon off the top of the liquid surface of the bath; (and reacting) said hydrogen gas with carbon dioxide in a methanol synthesis reactor in the presence of a catalyst to form a product containing methanol.

The present invention is related to a method for the production of methanol, and more specifically, to a method for production of methanol by conversion of natural gas and carbon dioxide ...

Summary: It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide an efficient method for the production of methanol from natural gas and carbon dioxide. 

It is yet another object to the present invention to provide a method for the production of methanol having reduced carbon dioxide emissions. It is another object of the present invention to utilize waste CO2 from coal burning power plants and other sources to produce methanol to reduce overall net CO2 emissions. 

It is another object of the present invention to produce carbon as a co-product to the production of methanol."



Note that this is a process to reduce the "overall net CO2 emissions" when "waste CO2 from coal burning power plants" is utilized as one of the raw materials.

Those "net CO2 emissions" would be reduced even further, of course, if the co-reactant Methane were to be made, as we suggested above, via the Sabatier process now being further developed by NASA, from CO2.

And, the by-product Carbon deposited by the subject process can be utilized, as well, as the inventors indicate in the Abstract, as in "methods include the gasification with carbon dioxide of at least a portion of the carbon produced by the decomposing step, to produce carbon monoxide, which is then reacted with hydrogen gas to produce methanol".

Make special note that the by-product Carbon can be utilized herein in such a way that even more CO2 is consumed .

And, as in another of our reports today - concerning "US Patent 4,348,487; Production of Methanol via Catalytic Coal Gasification"; which was assigned to Exxon in 1982; and, which discloses a technical process wherein, as the Abstract puts it in straightforward fashion, "Methanol is produced by gasifying a carbonaceous feed material with steam" - Carbon, any Carbon, can be gasified with Steam to produce the needed components for Methanol synthesis.

Furthermore, if Hydrogen can be reacted with Carbon Dioxide to form Methanol in the subject invention's specified reactor, there might be better ways to obtain that Hydrogen, such as by the photo- or electro-catalytic splitting, using environmentally-derived energy, of Water.

In any case, we have herein, yet again, even additional confirmation that Carbon Dioxide is a raw material resource of potentially great value.

We really don't want to, through Cap & Trade legislation, tax our vital Coal-use industries out of existence because they generate relatively small - compared to natural sources, like volcanoes - amounts of it for us.

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