Fall '19 Department Seminars with Dr. Bahar İpek Torun

Title: Cu and Fe-Exchanged Zeolites for Direct Methane Conversion to Methanol

Speaker: Dr. Bahar İpek Torun

Department of Chemical Engineering, Middle East Technical University 

Ankara, Türkiye

Date: November 19, 2019, Tuesday

Time: 12:40

Place: Departmental Seminar Room (SB-Z14)


Shale gas production increased sharply since 2005 (from 5 billion cubic feet per day in 2005 to 71 billion cubic feet per day in 2019 in USA) due to hydraulic fracturing. 308 trillion cubic feet of proved shale gas resources in USA and similar resources in Mexico, Argentina and even more in China predicts methane to be a major energy source in the transition period from petroleum-based energy economy to a renewable energy society. At the moment, as the produced shale gas (methane being the major component) cannot be economically transferred to the facilities due to the distributed wells, there is an undeniable need for a small-scale and economical methane conversion procedure to convert methane to valuable and easily transportable chemicals. Cu-exchanged zeolites are reported to convert methane to methanol with high methanol selectivity under mild conditions using a stepwise procedure. This procedure includes; i. activation of copper-exchanged zeolites under oxidant flow (at >450 °C), ii. methane reaction with the produced active copper-oxo species (> 200 °C), iii. methanol extraction using a proton donor as water vapor. Even though this procedure results in highly selective methanol production (>95%), the process is not catalytic and at least 10 h is required to obtain one batch of methanol. For commercial utilization, this process need to be carried under continuous flow conditions while maintaining high methanol selectivity. In our lab, we design and test Cu- and Fe-exchanged small-pore and large-pore zeolites for continuous methanol production at temperatures between 270 and 300 °C with the aim of achieving high methanol production rates and high methanol selectivity values.

Short Biography of the Speaker:

Bahar İpek Torun received her MSc degree from the Middle East Technical University, Department of Chemical Engineering in 2011. She conducted her PhD studies focused on zeolite design and catalytic applications at the University of Delaware, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, DE, USA under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Raul Lobo between 2011 and 2016. In the meantime, she conducted research on organic-inorganic hybrid perovskite solar cells as a visiting researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technologies, Center for Neutron Research, MD, USA. She joined the faculty of the Department of Chemical Engineering (METU) as an assistant professor in April, 2017. Her research focuses on synthesis, characterization and utilization of zeolites in H2 storage and C1 chemistry fields.