The kinetics of methanol decomposition: A part of autothermal partial oxidation to produce hydrogen for fuel cells

Peter Mizsey, Esmond Newson, Than binh Truong, Peter Hottinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

67 Citations (Scopus)


Methanol is considered as a renewable energy source for fuel processor-fuel cell systems. The determination of the kinetics of methanol autothermal partial oxidation can be simplified if the problem is divided into subproblems. As a first step, the kinetics of methanol decomposition (Me) are studied. To describe this subproblem, a reaction system consisting of four reactions is assumed. The reactions are: Me, dimethyl ether (DME) formation, steam reforming, and water gas shift (WGS) which are studied on a commercial copper containing catalyst (5 wt.% copper on alumina). The dehydration of methanol to DME is a second order reaction and essentially provides an excess of water over the whole reactor allowing first order kinetic assumptions for steam reforming and WGS. The WGS reaction proves to be slow, compared to the other reactions, and equilibrium limited. The activation energies (kJ/mol) are estimated: Me 76 (±4%), DME formation 117 (±2%), steam reforming 81 (±7%), WGS 50 (±25%). Turnover frequencies for Me are estimated based on copper surface areas determined by the nitrous oxide pulse reduction method. At 220°C, values of 0.05 s-1 are estimated compared to a literature value of 0.019 s-1 at 200°C.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-237
Number of pages5
JournalApplied Catalysis A: General
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 30 2001



  • Fixed bed reactor
  • Fuel cell
  • Kinetics
  • Methanol decomposition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Process Chemistry and Technology

Cite this