Res. Chem. Intermed.
, Vol. 34, Nos 8–9, pp. 793–801 (2008)
Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2008.
Also available online - www.brill.nl/rci
Direct synthesis of dimethyl ether from synthesis gas over
SUNG-HWAN AHN, SONG-HYOUNG KIM and HYUN-SIK HAHM
Department of Chemical Engineering, Myongji University, San 38-2, Namdong, Yongin,
Gyeonggi-do 449-728, South Korea
Received 9 July 2007; accepted 29 August 2007
Abstract—The capability of metal (Cu, Zn)-pillared ilerites and metal oxide (CuO, ZnO)-impregnated
metal-pillared ilerites for direct synthesis of dimethyl ether (DME) from synthesis gas was explored.
The metal-pillared ilerites were synthesized and characterized by XRD, BET, ICP-AES and SEM.
The reaction was carried out in a ﬁxed bed reactor with the prepared catalysts at different tempera-
tures (200, 250, 300
C), 20 bar and H
/CO ratio of 2. For CuO/Zn-ilerite catalyst, CO conversion was
about 62% and selectivity to DME was about 89% at 250
Keywords: Ilerite; dimethyl ether (DME); DME direct synthesis; synthesis gas.
Air pollution is one of the most serious environmental problems throughout the
world. The exhaust gas from diesel engines is a very important source of the air
pollution in cities because of its high content of NO
and particulates. Therefore,
a clean fuel is highly desired for the replacement of conventional diesel oil.
Dimethyl ether (DME), as an important chemical material and a potential clean
fuel substitute for LPG and diesel oil, so-called green fuel for the 21st century, has
attracted much attention in recent years. Traditionally, DME has been produced by
high-pressure methanol dehydration. The cost of DME is mainly controlled by the
methanol price. Therefore, direct synthesis of DME from synthesis gas has been
known as a potential process compared with the methanol dehydration process for
its lower thermodynamic limitation and lower investment.
For the moment, two processes have been disclosed to be promising for the pro-
duction of DME from synthesis gas. One is a two-step process including a methanol
synthesis step over a Cu-based catalyst followed by a methanol dehydration step
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