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Discovery of a Ni-Ga catalyst for carbon dioxide reduction to methanol

Abstract

The use of methanol as a fuel and chemical feedstock could become very important in the development of a more sustainable society if methanol could be efficiently obtained from the direct reduction of CO2 using solar-generated hydrogen. If hydrogen production is to be decentralized, small-scale CO2 reduction devices are required that operate at low pressures. Here, we report the discovery of a Ni-Ga catalyst that reduces CO2 to methanol at ambient pressure. The catalyst was identified through a descriptor-based analysis of the process and the use of computational methods to identify Ni-Ga intermetallic compounds as stable candidates with good activity. We synthesized and tested a series of catalysts and found that Ni5Ga3 is particularly active and selective. Comparison with conventional Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 catalysts revealed the same or better methanol synthesis activity, as well as considerably lower production of CO. We suggest that this is a first step towards the development of small-scale low-pressure devices for CO2 reduction to methanol.

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Figure 1: Theoretical activity volcano for CO2 hydrogenation to methanol.
Figure 2: Characterization of the catalysts studied.
Figure 3: The measured activity and selectivity towards methanol synthesis as a function of temperature for the studied catalysts.
Figure 4: Deactivation of Ni5Ga3 with time on stream.

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Acknowledgements

F.S., F.A-P., J.S.H. and J.K.N. acknowledge support from the US Department of Energy. This work was partly supported by The Danish National Research Foundation's Centre for Individual Nanoparticle Functionality (DNRF54) and partly by the Catalysis for Sustainable Energy initiative, which is funded by the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation. The authors also thank J. R. Rostrup-Nielsen for helpful discussions.

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F.S., F.A-P., J.S.H. and J.K.N. contributed to the computational work in this article. I.S., C.F.E., S.D. and I.C. contributed to the experimental work.

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Correspondence to Jens K. Nørskov.

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Studt, F., Sharafutdinov, I., Abild-Pedersen, F. et al. Discovery of a Ni-Ga catalyst for carbon dioxide reduction to methanol. Nature Chem 6, 320–324 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nchem.1873

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