Novel electrochemical route to cleaner fuel dimethyl ether

Abstract : Methanol, the simplest alcohol, and dimethyl ether, the simplest ether, are central compounds in the search for alternative " green " combustion fuels. In fact, they are generally considered as the cornerstones of the envisaged " Methanol Economy " scenario, as they are able to efficiently produce energy in an environmentally friendly manner. However, despite a massive amount of research in this field, the synthesis of dimethyl ether from liquid methanol has never so far been reported. Here we present a computational study, based on ab initio Molecular Dynamics, which suggests a novel synthesis route to methanol dehydration – leading thus to the dimethyl ether synthesis – through the application of strong electric fields. Besides proving the impressive catalytic effects afforded by the field, our calculations indicate that the obtained dimethyl ether is stable and that it can be progressively accumulated thanks to the peculiar chemical pathways characterising the methanol reaction network under electric field. These results suggest that the experimental synthesis of dimethyl ether from liquid methanol could be achieved, possibly in the proximity of field emitter tips.
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Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2017, 7, pp.6901. 〈10.1038/s41598-017-07187-8〉
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Giuseppe Cassone, Fabio Pietrucci, Franz Saija, François Guyot, Jirí Sponer, et al.. Novel electrochemical route to cleaner fuel dimethyl ether. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2017, 7, pp.6901. 〈10.1038/s41598-017-07187-8〉. 〈hal-01622776〉

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