Transforming carbon dioxide into valuable chemicals and fuels, is a promising tool for environmental and industrial purposes. Here, we present catalysts comprising of cobalt (oxide) nanoparticles stabilized on various support oxides for hydrocarbon production from carbon dioxide. We demonstrate that the activity and selectivity can be tuned by selection of the support oxide and cobalt oxidation state. Modulated excitation (ME) diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy (DRIFTS) reveals that cobalt oxide catalysts follows the hydrogen-assisted pathway, whereas metallic cobalt catalysts mainly follows the direct dissociation pathway. Contrary to the commonly considered metallic active phase of cobalt-based catalysts, cobalt oxide on titania support is the most active catalyst in this study and produces 11% C2+ hydrocarbons. The C2+ selectivity increases to 39% (yielding 104 mmol h−1 gcat−1 C2+ hydrocarbons) upon co-feeding CO and CO2 at a ratio of 1:2 at 250 °C and 20 bar, thus outperforming the majority of typical cobalt-based catalysts.
Synthesis methods to prepare lower transition metal catalysts and specifically Ni for Shell‐Isolated Nanoparticle‐Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SHINERS) are explored. Impregnation, colloidal deposition, and spark ablation have been investigated as suitable synthesis routes to prepare SHINERS‐active Ni/Au@SiO2 catalyst/Shell‐Isolated Nanoparticles (SHINs). Ni precursors are confirmed to be notoriously difficult to reduce and the temperatures required are generally harsh enough to destroy SHINs, rendering SHINERS experiments on Ni infeasible using this approach. For colloidally synthesized Ni nanoparticles deposited on Au@SiO2 SHINs, stabilizing ligands first need to be removed before application is possible in catalysis. The required procedure results in transformation of the metallic Ni core to a fully oxidized metal nanoparticle, again too challenging to reduce at temperatures still compatible with SHINs. Finally, by use of spark ablation we were able to prepare metallic Ni catalysts directly on Au@SiO2 SHINs deposited on a Si wafer. These Ni/Au@SiO2 catalyst/SHINs were subsequently successfully probed with several molecules (i. e. CO and acetylene) of interest for heterogeneous catalysis, and we show that they could be used to study the in situ hydrogenation of acetylene. We observe the interaction of acetylene with the Ni surface. This study further illustrates the true potential of SHINERS by opening the door to studying industrially relevant reactions under in situ or operando reaction conditions.
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