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Title: Highly Active and Stable MgAl2O4 Supported Rh and Ir Catalysts for Methane Steam Reforming: A Combined Experimental and Theoretical Study

In this work we present a combined experimental and theoretical investigation of stable MgAl2O4 spinel-supported Rh and Ir catalysts for the steam methane reforming (SMR) reaction. Firstly, catalytic performance for a series of noble metal catalysts supported on MgAl2O4 spinel was evaluated for SMR at 600-850°C. Turnover rate at 850°C follows the order: Pd > Pt > Ir > Rh > Ru > Ni. However, Rh and Ir were found to have the best combination of activity and stability for methane steam reforming in the presence of simulated biomass-derived syngas. It was found that highly dispersed ~2 nm Rh and ~1 nm Ir clusters were formed on the MgAl2O4 spinel support. Scanning Transition Electron Microscopy (STEM) images show that excellent dispersion was maintained even under challenging high temperature conditions (e.g. at 850°C in the presence of steam) while Ir and Rh catalysts supported on Al2O3 were observed to sinter at increased rates under the same conditions. These observations were further confirmed by ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD) simulations which find that ~1 nm Rh and Ir particles (50-atom cluster) bind strongly to the MgAl2O4 surfaces via a redox process leading to a strong metal-support interaction, thus helping anchor the metalmore » clusters and reduce the tendency to sinter. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations suggest that these supported smaller Rh and Ir particles have a lower work function than larger more bulk-like ones, which enables them to activate both water and methane more effectively than larger particles, yet have a minimal influence on the relative stability of coke precursors. In addition, theoretical mechanistic studies were used to probe the relationship between structure and reactivity. Consistent with the experimental observations, our theoretical modeling results also suggest that the small spinel-supported Ir particle catalyst is more active than the counterpart of Rh catalyst for SMR. This work was financially supported by the United States Department of Energy (DOE)’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and performed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). PNNL is a multi-program national laboratory operated for DOE by Battelle Memorial Institute. Computing time was granted by a user proposal at the Molecular Science Computing Facility in the William R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) located at PNNL. Part of the computational time was provided by the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC).« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
48163; 47689; BM0101010
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Journal of Catalysis, 316:11-23
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US), Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
RHODIUM; IRIDIUM; SPINELS Methane steam reforming; ab initio molecular dynamics; rhodium; iridium; spinel; Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory