• density functional theory;
  • nonlinear programming;
  • parameter estimation;
  • parallel computing

Microkinetic models, combined with experimentally measured reaction rates and orders, play a key role in elucidating detailed reaction mechanisms in heterogeneous catalysis and have typically been solved as systems of ordinary differential equations. In this work, we demonstrate a new approach to fitting those models to experimental data. For the specific example treated here, by reformulating a typical microkinetic model for a continuous stirred tank reactor to a system of nonlinear equations, we achieved a 1000-fold increase in solution speed. The reduced computational cost allows a more systematic search of the parameter space, leading to better fits to the available experimental data. We applied this approach to the problem of methanol synthesis by CO/CO2 hydrogenation over a supported-Cu catalyst, an important catalytic reaction with a large industrial interest and potential for large-scale CO2 chemical fixation. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 60: 1336–1346, 2014