Product Protection, the Key to Developing High Performance Methane Selective Oxidation Catalysts

Selective, direct conversion of methane to methanol might seem an impossible task since the C−H bond energy of methane is 105 kcal mol−1 compared to the C−H bond energy for methanol of 94. We show here that the Catalytica catalyst is successful because the methanol is protected as methyl bisulfate, which is substantially less reactive than methanol toward the catalyst. This analysis suggests a limiting performance for systems that operate by this type of protection that is well above the Catalytica system.