Electrochemical Methane Activation and Conversion to Oxygenates at Room Temperature

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Methane was electrochemically activated at room temperature to CH3OH, HCHO, CO and HCOO− and other low molecular weight oxygenates at room temperature using CO32− as an oxygen-donating species over a NiO-ZrO2 bifunctional electrocatalyst. Products were identified using Mass Spectrometry and 1H-Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy. O2 and CO2 were also observed as products resulting from carbonate electrolysis and/or the oxygen evolution reaction. Methane was adsorbed and activated by NiO while CO32− was adsorbed onto non-conducting ZrO2. Oxygen was then abstracted and donated from CO32− to electrocatalytically active sites to form new C-O or O-H bonds. This proposed low temperature electrochemical partial oxidation of methane may provide a new pathway for the synthesis of complex oxygenates and long chain hydrocarbons.