The water–gas shift (WGS) reaction is an industrially important source of pure hydrogen (H2) at the expense of carbon monoxide and water1,2. This reaction is of interest for fuel-cell applications, but requires WGS catalysts that are durable and highly active at low temperatures3. Here we demonstrate that the structure (Pt1–Ptn)/α-MoC, where isolated platinum atoms (Pt1) and subnanometre platinum clusters (Ptn) are stabilized on α-molybdenum carbide (α-MoC), catalyses the WGS reaction even at 313 kelvin, with a hydrogen-production pathway involving direct carbon monoxide dissociation identified. We find that it is critical to crowd the α-MoC surface with Pt1 and Ptn species, which prevents oxidation of the support that would cause catalyst deactivation, as seen with gold/α-MoC (ref. 4), and gives our system high stability and a high metal-normalized turnover number of 4,300,000 moles of hydrogen per mole of platinum. We anticipate that the strategy demonstrated here will be pivotal for the design of highly active and stable catalysts for effective activation of important molecules such as water and carbon monoxide for energy production.
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The main data supporting the findings of this study are available within the paper and its Supplementary Information. Additional data are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.
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This work received financial support from the Natural Science Foundation of China (21725301, 21932002, 21821004, 91645115, 51622211, 21577013, 21707015, 21872014, 21902018), the National Key R&D Program of China (2017YFB0602200, 2017YFA0700103, 2018YFA0305800), and the Beijing Outstanding Young Scientist Program (BJJWZYJH01201914430039). The X-ray absorption spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction experiments were conducted at the Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility and the Beijing Synchrotron Radiation Facility. The Pt L3 edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy for 0.02 wt% Pt/α-MoC was conducted at beamline10-BM, MRCAT operations, Advanced Photon Source under contract number DEAC02-06CH11357. The AP-XPS experiments were conducted in Swiss Light Source synchrotron. D.M. acknowledges support from the Tencent Foundation through the XPLORER PRIZE.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information Nature thanks Matteo Cargnello and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
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Zhang, X., Zhang, M., Deng, Y. et al. A stable low-temperature H2-production catalyst by crowding Pt on α-MoC. Nature 589, 396–401 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-03130-6