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CH3O Decomposition on PdZn(111), Pd(111), and Cu(111). A Theoretical Study

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journal contribution
posted on 14.09.2004 by Zhao-Xu Chen, Konstantin M. Neyman, Kok Hwa Lim, Notker Rösch
Methanol steam re-forming, catalyzed by Pd/ZnO, is a potential hydrogen source for fuel cells, in particular in pollution-free vehicles. To contribute to the understanding of pertinent reaction mechanisms, density functional slab model studies on two competing decomposition pathways of adsorbed methoxide (CH3O) have been carried out, namely, dehydrogenation to formaldehyde and C−O bond breaking to methyl. For the (111) surfaces of Pd, Cu, and 1:1 Pd−Zn alloy, adsorption complexes of various reactants, intermediates, transition states, and products relevant for the decomposition processes were computationally characterized. On the surface of Pd−Zn alloy, H and all studied C-bound species were found to prefer sites with a majority of Pd atoms, whereas O-bound congeners tend to be located on sites with a majority of Zn atoms. Compared to Pd(111), the adsorption energy of O-bound species was calculated to be larger on PdZn(111), whereas C-bound moieties were less strongly adsorbed. C−H scission of CH3O on various substrates under study was demonstrated to proceed easier than C−O bond breaking. The energy barrier for the dehydrogenation of CH3O on PdZn(111) (113 kJ mol-1) and Cu(111) (112 kJ mol-1) is about 4 times as high as that on Pd(111), due to the fact that CH3O interacts more weakly with Pd than with PdZn and Cu surfaces. Calculated results showed that the decomposition of methoxide to formaldehyde is thermodynamically favored on Pd(111), but it is an endothermic process on PdZn(111) and Cu(111) surfaces.