The selectivity and activity of catalyst for CO hydrogenation to methanol and hydrocarbon: A comparative study on Cu, Co and Ni surfaces

Jingbo Wang, Yoshiyuki Kawazoe, Qiang Sun, Siewhwa Chan, Haibin Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Typical Fischer-Tropsch catalysts display different selectivity and activity in catalyzing CO hydrogenation to diverse products. In this work, the preferable routes for CH3OH formation on Cu, chain growth on Co and CH4 formation on Ni are identified guided by the comprehensive reaction network that is mapped out by density function theory calculations. The difference in selectivity among catalysts is controlled delicately by several reactions, including CH3O + H 虠 CH3OH, CH3 + H 虠 CH4 and CH2 + CO 虠 CH2CO. The equilibrium shifts of CH2O + H 虠 CH3O and CH2 + H 虠 CH3 also make an impact on selectivity. The distinct selectivity can be understood further with the activity of catalysts. Our results show that the ability of surface to absorb species increases in the order Cu < Ni < Co. Generally, Cu catalyzes the association reaction better than Co and Ni, while Co facilitates the dissociation reaction. Two key factors, thermodynamic effect and kinetic effect, are identified in determining the activity of catalyst. We proof that surface with strong binding capability promotes the dissociation reaction, meanwhile impedes the association reaction when the thermodynamic effect is dominant in determining the barrier height. The Brønsted-Evans-Polanyi relation is observed for C-O bond breaking reactions. In addition, kinetic effect also affects the barrier when special transition state exists. The tilt of CO at the transition state for COH formation and chain growth reactions introduces the interaction of atom O with surface. The stronger binding of atom O on Co is crucial to branch the selectivity of Co to chain growth rather than methane. Present study provides a comprehensive picture on the activity and selectivity of catalysts, which is the essential to develop novel catalyst for syngas conversion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-40
Number of pages11
JournalSurface Science
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar


  • Activity
  • BEP relation
  • Chain growth
  • Hydrocarbon
  • Methanol
  • Selectivity


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