The quantitative prediction of catalyst selectivity is essential to the design of efficient catalytic processes and requires a detailed knowledge of the reaction mechanism and rate constants. Here we present a study that accurately predicts, using the kinetics and a mechanism derived from fundamental studies on single-crystal gold, the product distribution resulting from the complex reaction network that governs the oxidative coupling of methanol, catalysed by nanoporous gold between 360 and 425 K and for a vast range of pressures. Analysis of the transient product responses to micropulses of methanol over nanoporous gold yields a precise understanding of the marked dependence of selectivity on pressure, surface oxygen coverage and temperature. The key to a high selectivity for methyl formate is the surface lifetime and abundance of the methoxy. This successful microkinetic modelling of catalytic reactions across a wide set of reaction conditions is broadly applicable to predicting catalytic selectivity and provides a pathway to designing more efficient catalytic processes.
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The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
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This work was supported as part of the Integrated Mesoscale Architectures for Sustainable Catalysis (IMASC), an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences (BES), under Award no. DE-SC0012573. E.A.R. expresses his gratitude to U. Olsbye for her support and enthusiasm about applying TAP for mechanistic research in catalysis. E.A.R. acknowledges the Norwegian Research Council for financial support through contract 239193.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Reece, C., Redekop, E.A., Karakalos, S. et al. Crossing the great divide between single-crystal reactivity and actual catalyst selectivity with pressure transients. Nat Catal 1, 852–859 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41929-018-0167-5
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