Imperial College London

Prof Milo Shaffer

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Chemistry

Professor of Materials Chemistry



+44 (0)20 7594 5825m.shaffer Website




Mr John Murrell +44 (0)20 7594 2845




M221Royal College of ScienceSouth Kensington Campus






BibTex format

author = {Brown, NJ and Garcia-Trenco, A and Weiner, J and White, ER and Allinson, M and Chen, Y and Wells, PP and Gibson, EK and Hellgardt, K and Shaffer, MSP and Williams, CK},
doi = {10.1021/cs502038y},
journal = {ACS Catalysis},
pages = {2895--2902},
title = {From Organometallic Zinc and Copper Complexes to Highly Active Colloidal Catalysts for the Conversion of CO2 to Methanol},
url = {},
volume = {5},
year = {2015}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - A series of zinc oxide and copper(0) colloidal nanocatalysts, produced by a one-pot synthesis, are shown to catalyze the hydrogenation of carbon dioxide to methanol. The catalysts are produced by the reaction between diethyl zinc and bis(carboxylato/phosphinato)copper(II) precursors. The reaction leads to the formation of a precatalyst solution, characterized using various spectroscopic (NMR, UV–vis spectroscopy) and X-ray diffraction/absorption (powder XRD, EXAFS, XANES) techniques. The combined characterization methods indicate that the precatalyst solution contains copper(0) nanoparticles and a mixture of diethyl zinc and an ethyl zinc stearate cluster compound [Et4Zn5(stearate)6]. The catalysts are applied, at 523 K with a 50 bar total pressure of a 3:1 mixture of H2/CO2, in the solution phase, quasi-homogeneous, hydrogenation of carbon dioxide, and they show high activities (>55 mmol/gZnOCu/h of methanol). The postreaction catalyst solution is characterized using a range of spectroscopies, X-ray diffraction techniques, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). These analyses show the formation of a mixture of zinc oxide nanoparticles, of size 2–7 nm and small copper nanoparticles. The catalyst composition can be easily adjusted, and the influence of the relative loadings of ZnO/Cu, the precursor complexes and the total catalyst concentration on the catalytic activity are all investigated. The optimum system, comprising a 55:45 loading of ZnO/Cu, shows equivalent activity to a commercial, activated methanol synthesis catalyst. These findings indicate that using diethyl zinc to reduce copper precursors in situ leads to catalysts with excellent activities for the production of methanol from carbon dioxide.
AU - Brown,NJ
AU - Garcia-Trenco,A
AU - Weiner,J
AU - White,ER
AU - Allinson,M
AU - Chen,Y
AU - Wells,PP
AU - Gibson,EK
AU - Hellgardt,K
AU - Shaffer,MSP
AU - Williams,CK
DO - 10.1021/cs502038y
EP - 2902
PY - 2015///
SN - 2155-5435
SP - 2895
TI - From Organometallic Zinc and Copper Complexes to Highly Active Colloidal Catalysts for the Conversion of CO2 to Methanol
T2 - ACS Catalysis
UR -
UR -
VL - 5
ER -