CO2 Hydrogenation to Methanol on a YBa2Cu3O7 Catalyst

L. Z. Gao*, Chak Tong AU

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


The synthesis of methanol from CO2 and H2 over YBa2Cu3O7 was studied. The aim was to clarify (i) the nature of the catalyst in the working state, (ii) the redox behaviour of copper in various oxidation states, and (iii) the formation and transformation of precursor species in methanol synthesis. The effects of reaction pressure, temperature, and space velocity on the catalytic performance were also investigated. The optimum reaction conditions were pressure=3.0 MPa, space velocity=3600 h-1, and temperature=240°C. After H2 reduction at 250°C, the YBa2Cu3O7 transformed from an orthorhombic to a tetragonal structure, a phase which is active for methanol synthesis. In a H2-reduced YBa2Cu3O7 sample, there were Cu+ and oxygen vacancies and electrons trapped at the oxygen vacancies. We observed that CO2 adsorption would consume the trapped electrons, resulting in the reoxidation of Cu+ to Cu2+. Intermediate species such as formate, methylenebisoxy, formyl, formaldehyde, and methoxide were observed in in situ-FTIR and FT-Raman studies; they were also captured by CD3I during methanol synthesis. Based on these experimental results, a reaction mechanism for CO2 hydrogenation to methanol over YBa2Cu3O7 was proposed. In this mechanism, hydrogen adsorbs dissociatively at the Cu+ sites of the CuOx planes, whereas CO2 adsorbs at the oxygen vacancies. The spillover of hydrogen atoms from Cu+ to the oxygen atoms and/or carbon atom of adsorbed CO2 leads to the formation of COOH, COHOH, HCOHOH, and H2COHOH species; subsequently, one of the C-O bonds is weakened. Other intermediate species such as formate, methylenebisoxy, formyl, formaldehyde, and methoxide could be formed, and the final products are methanol, bimethyl ether, and CO.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Catalysis
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Catalysis
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

User-Defined Keywords

  • CO hydrogenation mechanism
  • Methanol synthesis
  • YBaCuO


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