Breaking H-H Bonds for Biomass Conversion

November 22, 2022
INS difference spectra between hydrogenated and fresh catalyst show signatures of Co-H and Co-O-H species when measured on the H2-reacted Co@CoO catalyst (red and black). Similar difference spectra on H2 reacted metallic Co (blue and green) do not show the species.

Scientific Achievement

The catalyst Co@ CoO (i.e. Co-core with CoO surface shell) reacts with H2 gas forming Co-H and Co-O-H species, providing direct evidence of heterolytic dissociation of H2.

Significance and Impact

The precious-metal-free Co@ CoO catalyst developed in this work shows excellent activity for hydrodeoxygenation of lignin compounds, a key reaction for biofuel production.

Research Details

  • Inelastic neutron scattering (INS) characterized various catalysts before and after reactions with H2 gas at a moderate temperature of 130 °C.
  • Samples were also characterized by electron microscopy and X-Ray photoelectron spectroscopy.
  • The active site is found to be the CoO shell, not the Co core.
  • Density Functional Theory (DFT) calculations supported the conclusions.

“A unique Co@ CoO catalyst for hydrogenolysis of biomass-derived 5-hydroxymethylfurfural to 2,5-dimethylfuran”
Shuang Xiang, Lin Dong, Zhi-Qiang Wang, Xue Han, Luke L. Daemen, Jiong Li, Yongqiang Cheng, Yong Guo, Xiaohui Liu, Yongfeng Hu, Anibal J. Ramirez-Cuesta, Sihai Yang, Xue-Qing Gong & Yanqin Wang
Nature Communications 13, 3657 (2022). DOI: