State Key Laboratory of Physical Chemistry of Solid Surfaces, Collaborative Innovation Center of Chemistry for Energy Materials, National Engineering Laboratory for Green Chemical Productions of Alcohols, Ethers and Esters, College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Xiamen University, Xiamen, 361005, China. [Email]
Synthesis of ethanol from non-petroleum carbon resources via syngas (a mixture of H2 and CO) is an important but challenging research target. The current conversion of syngas to ethanol suffers from low selectivity or multiple processes with high energy consumption. Here, we report a high-selective conversion of syngas into ethanol by a triple tandem catalysis. An efficient trifunctional tandem system composed of potassium-modified ZnO-ZrO2, modified zeolite mordenite and Pt-Sn/SiC working compatibly in syngas stream in one reactor can afford ethanol with a selectivity of 90%. We demonstrate that the K+-ZnO-ZrO2 catalyses syngas conversion to methanol and the mordenite with eight-membered ring channels functions for methanol carbonylation to acetic acid, which is then hydrogenated to ethanol over the Pt-Sn/SiC catalyst. The present work offers an effective methodology leading to high selective conversion by decoupling a single-catalyst-based complicated and uncontrollable reaction into well-controlled multi-steps in tandem in one reactor.