MAPEX Research Highlights

Disentangling catalysis and mass transport: Using diffusion measurements by pulsed field gradient NMR to reveal the microkinetics of CO oxidation over nanoporous gold

Amineh Baniani, Stefan Wild, Evan M.Forman, Thomas Risse, Sergey Vasenkov, Marcus Bäumer

Journal of Catalyst 413 (2022), 1123

Since the first studies reporting on its surprising catalytic properties, nanoporous gold (npAu) has emerged as a novel and ever since intensively investigated type of Au based catalyst. To judge its genuine catalytic potential and to be able to optimize its use in applications, it is mandatory, however, to quantify the influence of mass transport in the porous structure on the observed catalytic rates, i.e., to study the interplay between diffusion and reaction. To this end, we used pulsed field gradient (PFG) NMR for the first time to directly determine the diffusivities of reaction gases in a nanoporous metal – in this case for CO and CO2 as species involved in low temperature CO oxidation efficiently catalyzed by npAu. By comparing the diffusion coefficients within the 20 nm pores of the material with the values in the bulk gas phase, the tortuosity of npAu’s pore system was assessable as the central geometrical parameter describing the extent to which diffusive transport in the pore system is slowed down. This knowledge allowed us in the following to disentangle the contributions of mass transport and the kinetics of the surface reaction (microkinetics). In particular, we were able to determine the rate constant and turnover frequency for low-temperature CO oxidation without previous ambiguities arising from potential transport limitations and to compare the results with other reported values. Based on the results, it was furthermore possible to predict optimized dimensions of the catalyst, resulting in minimized or even suppressed diffusion limitations. These predictions could be successfully verified, using np-Au platelets with lateral dimensions in the range of a few hundred microns. In this way, the catalytic conversion could be ramped up by 50 % and an activity level advanced which reflected the microkinetic potential of np-Au.

© The Authors,, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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