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Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2016 May 10;55(20):6028-32. doi: 10.1002/anie.201601402. Epub 2016 Apr 9.

The Origin of the Catalytic Activity of a Metal Hydride in CO2 Reduction.

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École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), 1951, Sion, Switzerland.
Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, 8600, Dübendorf, Switzerland.
Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH, 40237, Düsseldorf, Germany.
École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), 1951, Sion, Switzerland.


Atomic hydrogen on the surface of a metal with high hydrogen solubility is of particular interest for the hydrogenation of carbon dioxide. In a mixture of hydrogen and carbon dioxide, methane was markedly formed on the metal hydride ZrCoHx in the course of the hydrogen desorption and not on the pristine intermetallic. The surface analysis was performed by means of time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectroscopy and near-ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, for the in situ analysis. The aim was to elucidate the origin of the catalytic activity of the metal hydride. Since at the initial stage the dissociation of impinging hydrogen molecules is hindered by a high activation barrier of the oxidised surface, the atomic hydrogen flux from the metal hydride is crucial for the reduction of carbon dioxide and surface oxides at interfacial sites.


CO2 reduction; heterogeneous catalysis; hydrocarbons; hydrogen; hydrogenation


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