Cu nanoparticles are known to be very active for methanol (MeOH) synthesis at relatively low temperatures, such that smaller particle sizes yield better MeOH productivity. We aimed to control Cu nanoparticle (NP) size and size distribution for catalysing MeOH synthesis, by using the spinning disk reactor. The spinning disk reactor (SDR), which operates based on shear effect and plug flow in thin films, can be used to rapidly micro-mix reactants in order to control nucleation and particle growth for uniform particle size distribution. This could be achieved by varying both physical and chemical operation conditions in a precipitation reaction on the SDR. We have used the SDR for a Cu borohydride reduction to vary Cu NP size from 3 nm to about 55 nm. XRD and TEM characterization confirmed the presence of Cu₂O and Cu crystallites when the samples were dried. This technique is readily scalable for Cu NP production by processing continuously over a longer duration than the small-scale tests. However, separation of the nanoparticles from solution posed a challenge as the suspension hardly settled. The Cu NPs produced were tested to be active catalyst for MeOH synthesis at low temperature and MeOH productivity increased with decreasing particle size.
Keywords: Cu nanoparticles; low temperature; methanol synthesis; spinning disc reactor.