In situ characterization of CuFe2O4 and Cu/Fe 3O4 water-gas shift catalysts

Michael Estrella, Laura Barrio, Gong Zhou, Xianqin Wang, Qi Wang, Wen Wen, Jonathan C. Hanson, Anatoly I. Frenkel, José A. Rodriguez

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Mixtures of copper and iron oxides are used as industrial catalysts for the water-gas shift (WGS, CO + H2O → H2 + CO 2). In-situ time-resolved X-ray diffraction, X-ray absorption fine structure, and atomic pair distribution function analysis were used to study the reduction of CuFe2O4 with CO and the behavior of CuFe2O4 and Cu/Fe2O3 catalysts under WGS reaction conditions. Metal↔oxygen↔metal interactions enhance the stability of Cu2+ and Fe3+ in the CuFe2O 4 lattice, and the mixed-metal oxide is much more difficult to reduce than CuO or Fe2O3. Furthermore, after heating mixtures of CuFe2O4/CuO in the presence of CO or CO/H2O, the cations of CuO migrate into octahedral sites of the CuFe2O 4 lattice at temperatures (200-250 °C) in which CuO is not stable. Above 250 °C, copper leaves the oxide, the occupancy of the octahedral sites in CuFe2O4 decreases, and diffraction lines for metallic Cu appear. From 350 to 450 °C, there is a massive reduction of CuFe2O4 with the formation of metallic Cu and Fe3O4. At this point, the sample becomes catalytically active for the production of H2 from the reaction of H2O with CO. Neutral Cu0 (i.e., no Cu1+ or Cu2+ cations) is the active species in the catalysts, but interactions with the oxide support cannot be neglected. These studies illustrate the importance of in situ characterization when dealing with mixed-metal oxide WGS catalysts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14411-14417
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 13 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • General Energy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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