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Integrated Catalysis-Surface Science-Theory Approach to Understand Selectivity in the Hydrogenation of 1-Hexyne to 1-Hexene on PdAu Single-Atom Alloy Catalysts

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journal contribution
posted on 26.08.2019, 18:34 by Jilei Liu, Matthew B. Uhlman, Matthew M. Montemore, Antonios Trimpalis, Georgios Giannakakis, Junjun Shan, Sufeng Cao, Ryan T. Hannagan, E. Charles H. Sykes, Maria Flytzani-Stephanopoulos
The selective hydrogenation of alkynes to alkenes is an important industrial process. However, achieving high selectivity and reducing the usage of precious platinum group metals are still challenging for the conventional hydrogenation catalysts. With atomically dispersed active metal atoms on the surface of a host metal, single-atom alloys (SAAs) have shown excellent hydrogenation selectivity and activity, but their hydrogenation mechanism is not fully understood. This work reports on the selective hydrogenation of 1-hexyne to 1-hexene on PdAu SAA catalysts. Au is a highly selective hydrogenation catalyst, but it is not active at low temperatures. Through measurements of reaction kinetics and in operando spectroscopy studies, we follow the much more facile activation of PdAu SAA catalysts and demonstrate the different hydrogenation chemistry of single Pd atoms and Pd nanoparticles (NPs). We further investigate the role of Pd atoms and the mechanism behind the improved hydrogenation selectivity through surface science and density functional theory. These studies indicate that the difference in reactivity stems from the relative energy barrier heights for over-hydrogenating the terminal C atom. The complementary catalysis-surface science-theory investigation described here is a powerful and general approach for understanding and controlling NP performance. The selective hydrogenation on PdAu SAAs is demonstrated and understood fundamentally, which serves as a guide for future designs of this type of catalyst.