Inexpensive, One-Step Method for Aromatic Hydrocarbon Production Using Novel Nanoparticle Catalyst

Reference Number: 12-21

Inventors: Hongwang Wang, Stefan Bossmann, Donghai Wang, Deryl Troyer, Tej Shrestha


Researchers at Kansas State University have developed an inexpensive, one-step method for producing aromatic hydrocarbons. This method uses a novel, highly selective Fe/Fe3O4 nanocatalyst that directly converts gaseous mixtures of carbon dioxide and hydrogen, as well as carbon monoxide and water into aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzene, toluene, xylene and mesitylene. This method takes place at modest temperature and pressure conditions (380oC–560oC at 1 atm), yielding a liquid mix of aromatic hydrocarbons with traces of aliphatic hydrocarbons. In addition, this nanocatalyst facilitates a “lignin depolymerization process” to release valuable feedstock chemicals.

Technical Merits:

To the best of our knowledge, this is the first catalyst and process that is capable of yielding significant proportions of aromatic hydrocarbons from carbon dioxide and hydrogen. While other processes start from aliphatic hydrocarbons and convert them to aromatic hydrocarbons at temperatures greater than 1000oC, this process is unique as it can form aromatic hydrocarbons in a single step and at relatively low temperatures (380oC–560oC). The resulting product mixture comprises just thirty reaction products, unlike other catalysts that yield hundreds of reaction products. Accordingly, the process yields a liquid fuel mix which can be a direct substitute for gasoline or jet fuel within the distribution chain. This is unique as other similar processes yield semi-solid or waxy products that cannot be used without further processing.

  • This K-State developed technology works at low pressure down to 1 atm and is easy to recycle, unlike other catalyst that require high pressures to operate and are expensive to recycle.

  • The nanocatalyst works independent of the stoichiometry of the gas mixture used, and can even convert syngas into biofuel.

  • The nanocatalyst is synthesized in one hour using just one iron precursor, compared to other methods that take up to 16 hours and require use of expensive metal precursors.

  • This nanocatalyst does not pose an environmental hazard.

Applications and Commercial Opportunities:
  • Production of liquid fuels that are direct substitutes for current fuels such as gasoline and jet fuel

  • Syngas industry

  • Production of chemical starting materials for major industrial processes

  • Production of valuable feedstock chemicals via the depolymerization of lignin

  • Potentially environment-friendly industrial applications due to compatibility with solar heat and hydrogen technology

Patent Status
  • International Patent Protection (#14/603,628 ) filed in USA on January 23, 2015.

Kansas State University Research Foundation seeks to have discussions with companies that are interested in licensing and/or research collaborations.

Interested parties should contact:

Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization (KSU-IC)
2005 Research Park Circle Manhattan, KS 66502
Tel: 785-532-3900 Fax: 785-532-3909