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Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2014 Aug 28;16(32):17183-95. doi: 10.1039/c4cp02276a. Epub 2014 Jul 10.

Morphological effects of the nanostructured ceria support on the activity and stability of CuO/CeO2 catalysts for the water-gas shift reaction.

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Center for Computational Science & Engineering and Green Chemistry Center, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China.


Three CuO/CeO2 catalyst with different morphologies of ceria, namely nanospheres, nanorods and nanocubes, were synthesized and used to catalyze the water-gas shift (WGS) reaction. The reactivity tests showed that the Cu supported on the ceria nanospheres exhibited both the highest activity and superior stability when compared with the nanocube and nanorod ceria catalysts. Operando X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS) and diffuse reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (DRIFTS) methods were used to characterize these catalysts in their working state. High resolution electron microscopy (HRTEM, STEM) was used to look at the local atomic structure and nano-scale morphology. Our results show that the morphology of the ceria support, which can involve different crystal faces and concentrations of defects and imperfections, has a critical impact on the catalytic properties and influences: (1) the dispersion of CuO in the as-synthesized catalyst; (2) the particle size of metallic Cu upon reduction during the WGS reaction, (3) the stability of the metallic Cu upon variations of temperature, and (4) the dissociation of water on the ceria support. The nanosphere ceria catalyst showed an excellent water dissociation capability, the best dispersion of Cu and a strong Cu-Ce interaction, therefore delivering the best performance among the three WGS catalysts. The metallic Cu, which is the active species during the WGS reaction, was more stabilized on the nanospheres than on the nanorods and nanocubes and thus led to a better stability of the nanosphere catalyst than the other two architectures. Each catalyst exhibited a distinctive line-shape in the 800-1600 cm(-1) region of the DRIFTS spectra, pointing to the existence of different types of carbonate or carboxylate species as surface intermediates for the WGS.


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