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A low-temperature catalyst for dry methane reforming

By Tetsuo Satoh |

A catalyst that performs low-temperature reforming of methane with carbon dioxide (dry methane reforming) into synthesis gas (syngas) has been developed by Japanese researchers, led by Hideki Abe at the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS, Tsukuba City, www.nims.go.jp), in collaboration with scientists from the Kochi University of Technology and Tokyo Institute of Technology.

Traditional steam-methane reforming requires high (more than 1,073K) temperatures to suppress carbon deposition, and is thus energy intensive (generating significant CO2 emissions) while suffering from rapid catalyst degradation. Although dry reforming has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions, it is also prone to carbon deposition, especially at lower temperatures.

The researchers have undertaken a catalyst-design strategy that precludes carbon deposition, by tailoring the 3-D topology of metal/oxide nanocomposites. The catalyst consists of an entangled network of fibrous phases of Ni metal and oxygen-deficient Y2O3 to form a rooted structure, designated as Ni#Y2O3. They demonstrated that the Ni#Y2O3 catalyst can activate CO2 and CH4 at 623K, and stably promote low-temperature dry reforming at 723K for over 1,000 h — ten times longer than traditional supported catalysts, such as Ni/Al2O3 and Ni/Y2O3. The increased stability is attributed to the Ni catalyst center of the Ni#Y2O3 being “topologically immobilized” by the oxygen-deficient Y2O3 matrix, which can eliminate carbon byproducts. The new catalyst and its synthesis is described in a recent issue of the Royal Society’s Chemical Science

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