The invention provides a method for producing ethanol, the method comprising establishing an atmosphere containing methanol forming catalyst and ethanol forming catalyst; injecting syngas into the atmosphere at a temperature and for a time sufficient to produce methanol; and contacting the produced methanol with additional syngas at a temperature and for a time sufficient to produce ethanol. The invention also provides an integrated system for producing methanol and ethanol from syngas, the system comprising an atmosphere isolated from the ambient environment; a first catalyst to produce methanol from syngas wherein the first catalyst resides in the atmosphere; a second catalyst to product ethanol from methanol and syngas, wherein the second catalyst resides in the atmosphere; a conduit for introducing syngas to the atmosphere; and a device for removing ethanol from the atmosphere. The exothermicity of the method and system obviates the need for input of additional heat from outside the atmosphere.
CONTRACTUAL ORIGIN OF THE INVENTION
The U.S. Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357 between the U.S. Department of Energy and U Chicago Argonne, LLC, representing Argonne National Laboratory.