Quantification of Methanol Concentration in Mixtures of Production from Synthesis Gas

Raman spectroscopy easily enables the determination of methanol concentrations in mixtures with water and carbon dioxide produced on an industrial scale from synthesis gas

Methanol is a basic chemical used in many manufacturing sectors (e.g. to produce formaldehyde, MTBE, acetic acid) and is considered a viable alternative energy source. The global methanol demand reached 75 million metric tons in 2015. It is produced on an industrial scale (billion liter range) from synthesis gas which consists of carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), and hydrogen.

The synthesis gas is produced via steam reforming or partial oxidation. Producing methanol from synthesis gas results in mixtures of methanol, water, and carbon dioxide. The determination of the methanol concentration in these mixtures is challenging since characterization via physical parameters such as density determination is distorted by the carbon dioxide content, and chromatographic methods are time-consuming and expensive. Due to the low vapor pressure of methanol and the high solubility of carbon dioxide in methanol-enriched solutions, degasing of the mixtures prior to density determinations is not a reasonable alternative either. In addition, quantitative adsorption of carbon dioxide by insoluble solids like aluminum oxides or chromium oxides is not practical and entails risks and other sources of error.

A fast and non-destructive method which is unaffected by the carbon dioxide is needed to determine the methanol concentration in mixtures originating from synthesis gas. For this, Raman spectroscopy is a promising method.

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