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J Phys Chem B. 2005 Sep 8;109(35):16794-800.

Supercritical carbon dioxide: an inert solvent for catalytic hydrogenation?

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Hönggerberg HCI, CH-8093 Zurich, Switzerland.


Various surface species originating from the reaction between CO2 and H2 over Al2O3-supported Pt, Pd, Rh, and Ru model catalysts were investigated by attenuated total reflection infrared (ATR-IR) spectroscopy under high-pressure conditions. Two different spectroscopic cells were used: a variable-volume view cell equipped with ATR-crystal and transmission IR windows (batch reactor) and a continuous-flow cell also equipped with a reflection element for ATR-IR spectroscopy. The study corroborated that CO formation from dense CO2 in the presence of hydrogen occurs over all Pt-group metals commonly used in heterogeneous catalytic hydrogenations in supercritical CO2 (scCO2). In the batch reactor cell, formation of CO was detected on all metals at 50 and 90 degrees C, with the highest rate on Pt. Additional surface species were observed on Pt/Al2O3 at 150 bar under static conditions. It seems that further reaction of CO with hydrogen is facilitated by the higher surface concentration at higher pressure. In the continuous-flow cell, CO coverage on Pt/Al2O3 was less prominent than that in the batch reactor cell. A transient experiment in the continuous-flow cell additionally revealed CO formation on Pt/Al2O3 at 120 bar after switching the feed from a H2-ethane to a H2-CO2 mixture. The in situ ATR-IR measurements indicate that CO formation in CO2-H2 mixtures is normally a minor side reaction during hydrogenation reactions on Pt-group metal catalysts, and dense ("supercritical") CO2 may be considered as a relatively "inert" solvent in many practical applications. However, blocking of specific sites on the metal surface by CO and consecutive products can affect structure sensitive hydrogenation reactions and may be at the origin of unexpected shifts in the product distribution.

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