In Situ X-ray Microscopy Reveals Particle Dynamics in a NiCo Dry Methane Reforming Catalyst under Operating Conditions

Abstract

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Herein, we report the synthesis of a γ-Al2O3-supported NiCo catalyst for dry methane reforming (DMR) and study the catalyst using in situ scanning transmission X-ray microscopy (STXM) during the reduction (activation step) and under reaction conditions. During the reduction process, the NiCo alloy particles undergo elemental segregation with Co migrating toward the center of the catalyst particles and Ni migrating to the outer surfaces. Under DMR conditions, the segregated structure is maintained, thus hinting at the importance of this structure to optimal catalytic functions. Finally, the formation of Ni-rich branches on the surface of the particles is observed during DMR, suggesting that the loss of Ni from the outer shell may play a role in the reduced stability and hence catalyst deactivation. These findings provide insights into the morphological and electronic structural changes that occur in a NiCo-based catalyst during DMR. Further, this study emphasizes the need to study catalysts under operating conditions in order to elucidate material dynamics during the reaction.

Authors: Abbas Beheshti Askari, Mustafa al Samarai, Bruno Morana, Lukas Tillmann, Norbert Pfänder, Aleksandra Wandzilak, Benjamin Watts, Rachid Belkhou, Martin Muhler and Serena DeBeer

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