Enhanced alcohol production over binary Mo/Co carbide catalysts in syngas conversion

Arun S. Asundi, Adam S.Hoffman, Miaofang Chi, Sindhu S.Nathan, Alexey Boubnov, Jiyun Hong , Simon R. Bare, Stacey F. Bent
Year of publication: 
Journal of Catalysis

Recently metal carbide catalysts have attracted attention as alternatives to pure metals for the conversion of syngas to higher oxygenates, a process which could enable the sustainable production of fuels, polymers, and chemicals. Although Mo and Co carbides have both shown promise for higher oxygenate production, they have not achieved the requisite activity and selectivity for practical implementation. In this work we synthesize and characterize a binary Mo and Co carbide catalyst that exhibits improved activity and oxygenate selectivity relative to either pure metal carbide. We apply a combination of advanced electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction to show that the binary Mo/Co carbide catalyst forms uniformly mixed amorphous nanoparticles. Through in situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy studies, we determine that the structure of the mixed metal carbide catalyst under reaction conditions consists of both carbidic and bimetallic components. By testing the catalytic properties of a series of Mo/Co carbide catalysts prepared by different synthesis methods, we find that the Mo and Co sites must be in close contact to achieve improved syngas conversion to higher alcohols. Through in situ DRIFTS measurements, both Mo and Co atoms at the surface of the catalyst are identified as adsorption sites for reactive species.

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