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Research Overview

triangle depicting CCHF subgroupsThe Challenge: Methane to Methanol

C-H Activation Subgroup

Oxygen Activation Subgroup

Methane Fuel Cell Subgroup

Research Highlights

The CCHF facilitates collaborations among research groups with expertise in catalysis, inorganic chemistry, electrochemistry, bioinorganic chemistry, materials chemistry, organic chemistry and quantum mechanics to develop new methods of activating and functionalizing hydrocarbons for the production of liquid fuels, electricity and commodity chemicals.

Ultimately, we seek to apply these advancements toward:

  • The development of catalysts for the selective and scalable conversion of methane to an easily transportable liquid that can be used as a fuel and a precursor for chemical feedstocks. Because of the versatility of methanol, the selective catalytic conversion of methane-to-methanol (MTM) is the primary target:

methane to methanol equation

  • New anodic catalysts for low temperature direct methane fuel cells, which can simultaneously increase the efficiency of electricity generation as well as facilitate the use of natural gas in the transportation sector. In a direct methane fuel cell, methane is oxidized at the anode:

anode fuel cell reaction

The unifying element to all research thrusts in the CCHF is the development of transition metal catalysts for the selective conversion of C–H bonds of hydrocarbons, especially methane, to C–O bonds. Using an approach that involves systematic manipulation of molecular catalysts through variation of metal identity, metal oxidation state, reaction conditions and ancillary ligand identity, we will build the fundamental foundation to rationally design more effective catalysts for selective hydrocarbon functionalization.