Kinetics of Oxygen-enhanced Water Gas Shift on Bimetallic Catalysts and the Roles of Metals and Support

Open Access
Kugai, Junichiro
Graduate Program:
Energy and Geo-Environmental Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
November 22, 2010
Committee Members:
  • Chunshan Song, Dissertation Advisor
  • Chunshan Song, Committee Chair
  • Yaw D Yeboah, Committee Member
  • Yongsheng Chen, Committee Member
  • Michael John Janik, Committee Member
  • Oxygen-enhanced Water Gas Shift (OWGS)
  • Water Gas Shift (WGS)
  • Pd
  • Cu
  • Metal Catalyst
  • CeO2-supported Pd-Cu
  • Bimetallic catalyst
The post-processing of reformate is an important step in producing hydrogen (H2) with low carbon monoxide (CO) for low temperature fuel cells from syn-gas. However, the conventional process consists of three steps, i.e. two steps of water gas shift (WGS) and preferential oxidation (PROX) of CO, and it is not suitable for mobile applications due to the large volume of water gas shift (WGS) catalysts and conditioning and/or regeneration necessary for these catalysts. Aiming at replacing those three steps by a simple one-step process, small amount of oxygen was added to WGS (the reaction called oxygen-enhanced water gas shift or OWGS) to promote the reaction kinetics and low pyrophoric ceria-supported bimetallic catalysts were employed for stable performance in this reaction. Not only CO conversion, but also H2 yield was found to increase by the O2 addition on CeO2-supported catalysts. The characteristics of OWGS, high H2 production rate at 200 to 300oC at short contact time where unreacted O2 exists, evidenced the impact of O2 addition on surface species on the catalyst. Around 1.5 of reaction order in CO for various CeO2-supported metal catalysts for OWGS compared to reaction orders in CO ranging from -0.1 to 0.6 depending on metal species for WGS shows O2 addition decreases CO coverage to free up the active sites for co-reactant (H2O) adsorption and activation. Among the monometallic and bimetallic catalysts, Pt-Cu and Pd-Cu bimetallic catalysts were superior to monometallic catalysts in OWGS. These bimetallic components were found to form alloys where noble metal is surrounded mainly by Cu to have strong interaction between noble metal and copper resulting in high OWGS activity and low pyrophoric property. The metal loadings were optimized for CeO2-supported Pd-Cu bimetallic system and 2 wt% Pd with 5 – 10 wt% Cu were found to be the optimum for the present OWGS condition. In the kinetic study, Pd in Pd-Cu was shown to increase the active sites for H2O dissociation and/or the subsequent reaction with chemisorbed CO as well as Pd keeps Cu in reduced state. Cu was found to keep Pd dispersed, suppress H2 activation on Pd, and facilitate CO2 desorption from catalyst surface. While composition and structure of metal have large impacts on OWGS performance, CeO2 was shown to create new sites for H2O activation at metal-ceria interfacial region in concert with metal. These new sites strongly activate H2O to drive OWGS and WGS compared to the pure metallic sites which are present in majority on Al2O3-supported catalyst. The observed two regimes of turnover rate, the one dependent on catalyst surface area and the other independent of surface area, strongly suggested bifunctional reaction pathway where the reaction rate is determined by activation of H2O and by association of chemisorbed CO and H2O. The associative route was also evidenced by pulse response study where the reaction occurs only when CO and H2O pulses are supplied together, and thus pre-adsorbed species such as formate and carbonate identified by FT-IR are proven to be spectators. No correlation between WGS rate and isotopic exchange rate of molecularly adsorbed D2O with H2 showed H2O dissociation is necessary for WGS to occur. Long duration tests revealed CeO2-supported Pd-Cu, Pt-Cu and Cu catalysts are stable in OWGS condition compared to Pt, Pd, and Al2O3-supported Pd-Cu catalysts which exhibited continuous deactivation during about 70 hours of test. The addition of Cu prevents agglomeration of monometallic Pd and carbonate formation on monometallic Pt during the reaction. The better activity and stability of Pd-Cu and Pt-Cu bimetallic catalysts in the realistic OWGS condition were ascribed to the unique active sites consisting of highly dispersed Pd in Cu or Pt in Cu on CeO2, which are good for H2O activation with low reaction inhibition by the product gases. Pt monometallic catalyst showed and highest activity in OWGS in the absence of product gases, but this was found vulnerable in the presence of product gases due to strong adsorption of H2 and CO2 on this catalyst. The present thesis has shown large benefits of OWGS over WGS both in fundamental understanding of the reaction and in practical applications. OWGS enabled observation of kinetic feature of WGS which is strongly limited by high CO coverage of the active sites. O2 addition to WGS decreases CO coverage to open up the subsequent H2O activation/reaction processes and to make it visible in kinetics. The kinetic results in turn evidenced the bifunctional route. The rate was well fitted to Langmuir-Hinshelwood model when the function of CeO2 is sufficient, which confirmed the reaction occurs through association of the reactants on the catalyst surface. In the practical view point, OWGS enhanced CO shift to H2 at low temperature and CeO2-supported Pd-Cu bimetallic catalyst provided high activity and low pyrophoricity in OWGS, which are promising for mobile low temperature fuel cell application.