Sci Rep. 2022 May 20;12(1):8577. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-12639-x.
Direct catalytic conversion of methane to methanol with O2 has been a fundamental challenge in unlocking abundant natural gas supplies. Metal-free methane conversion with 17% methanol yield based on the limiting reagent O2 at 275 °C was achieved with near supercritical acetonitrile in the presence of boron nitride. Reaction temperature, catalyst loading, dwell time, methane-oxygen molar ratio, and solvent-oxygen molar ratios were identified as critical factors controlling methane activation and the methanol yield. Extension of the study to ethane (C2) showed moderate yields of methanol (3.6%) and ethanol (4.5%).