Development of Coke-tolerant Transition Metal Catalysts for Dry Reforming of Methane

  • Bedour E. Al-Sabban

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Dry reforming of methane (DRM) is an attractive and promising process for the conversion of methane and carbon dioxide which are the most abundant carbon sources into valuable syngas. The produced syngas, which is a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, can be used as intermediates in the manufacture of numerous chemicals. To achieve high conversion, DRM reaction is operated at high temperatures (700-900 °C) that can cause major drawbacks of catalyst deactivation by carbon deposition, metal sintering or metal oxidation. Therefore, the primary goal is to develop a metal based catalyst for DRM that can completely suppress carbon formation by designing the catalyst composition. The strategy of this work was to synthesize Ni-based catalysts all of which prepared by homogeneous deposition precipitation method (HDP) to produce nanoparticles with narrow size distribution. In addition, control the reactivity of the metal by finely tuning the bimetallic composition and the reaction conditions in terms of reaction temperature and pressure. The highly endothermic dry reforming of methane proceeds via CH4 decomposition to leave surface carbon species, followed by removal of C with CO2-derived species to give CO. Tuning the reactivity of the active metal towards these reactions during DRM allows in principle the catalyst surface to remain active and clean without carbon deposition for a long-term. The initial attempt was to improve the resistance of Ni catalyst towards carbon deposition, therefore, a series of 5 wt.% bimetallic Ni9Pt1 were supported on various metal oxides (Al2O3, CeO2, and ZrO2). The addition of small amount of noble metal improved the stability of the catalyst compared to their monometallic Ni and Pt catalysts, but still high amount of carbon (> 0.1 wt.%) was formed after 24 h of the reaction. The obtained results showed that the catalytic performance, particle size and amount of deposited carbon depends on the nature of support. Among the tested catalysts, Ni9Pt1/ZrO2 showed high stability with the least carbon amount (0.55 wt.%). On the other hand, mono- and bimetallic Co-Ni/ZrO2 were then prepared following the same synthesis protocol. The ZrO2 support was chosen because of its high thermal stability and absence of mixed oxide formation with the active metals. It was demonstrated that on monometallic Co catalyst, the kinetic analysis showed first-order in CH4 and negative-order in CO2 on the DRM rate. The Co catalyst deactivated without forming carbon deposits. On contrary, on monometallic Ni catalyst, the DRM rate was proportional to CH4 pressure but insensitive to CO2 pressure. The Ni surface provides comparatively higher rates of CH4 decomposition and the resultant DRM than the Co catalyst but leaves some deposited carbon on the catalyst surface. In contrast, the bimetallic CoNi catalyst showed kinetics resembling the Co catalyst, i.e., the first-order with respect to CH4 pressure and the negative-order with respect to CO2 pressure on the DRM rate. Noticeably, the stability of CoNi catalyst was drastically improved over the monometallic counterparts and no deposited carbon was detected after the DRM reaction. The results suggest that for an appropriate Co/Ni ratio, the bimetallic CoNi/ZrO2 catalyst exhibits intermediate reactivity towards CH4 and CO2 between Co and Ni producing negligible carbon deposition by balancing CH4 and CO2 activation.
Date of AwardNov 7 2016
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorJean-Marie Basset (Supervisor)


  • Dry Reforming of Methane
  • Bimetal
  • Carbon Deposition
  • Kinetics
  • Metal Oxidation

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