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Researchers at Michigan University They have found a reaction pathway that creates methanol from methane gas using near-UV light and a titanium-based catalyst. Funded by a $227,000 grant from the National Center for Clean Industrial Treatment Technologies, their next step is to generate enough methanol to make the process commercially viable.

The synthetic fuel methanol is just such a portable product, since it’s liquid at room temperature. However, the existing methods for creating liquid methanol from methane are either expensive or untried, blocking their commercial development.

Methane is often located in the same underground places as oil, and unless large reserves are found, it’s treated as an unwanted byproduct. The petroleum industry burns it because it’s too expensive to transport. But if it can be made into a product that is affordable to transport, it could be commercially viable.

For more information contact: Dr. David Shonnard

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