Novel Catalyst for Hydrogen Production from Steam Reforming of Ethanol

Researchers at the University of Leeds (UK) have developed a novel nano-Ni/SiO2 catalyst that appears effective in the production of hydrogen from the steam reforming of ethanol. A paper on their work was published 2 July in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Although catalytic steam reforming of ethanol has been regarded as one promising way to produce hydrogen, catalytic deactivation is a key problem in the process.

The Leeds team prepared the novel nano-Ni/SiO2 catalyst was prepared by a simple sol-gel method and compared it to catalysts prepared by an impregnation method in relation to the steam reforming ethanol process.

Among their findings were that:

  • Good Ni dispersion and high BET surface areas (>700 m2 g-1) were obtained for sol-gel catalysts, compared to 1 m2 g-1 for the Ni/SiO2 impregnation catalyst.
  • The results of catalytic steam reforming of ethanol showed that about twice of the hydrogen production was produced with the Ni/SiO2 catalyst prepared by sol-gel (around 0.2 g h-1) compared with that prepared by impregnation (around 0.1 g h-1).
  • The analysis of the used catalysts showed that two of the catalysts—10Ni/SiO2-B and 20Ni/SiO2-B—presented the highest stability, while other catalysts were fragmented into small pieces after the reforming process, especially the catalysts prepared by impregnation.

Our results have shown significant improvement in hydrogen production of Ni-based catalysts prepared by the sol-gel method (10Ni/SiO2-B and 20Ni/SiO2-B) in relation to the steam reforming of ethanol. The results suggest that the modification of metal content, size, and dispersion of active sites such as Ni and the structure of the catalyst can be manipulated to optimize the production of hydrogen from ethanol. Other additives such as Cu, Mg, Ca, etc. could also be used in the sol-gel process to improve the catalyst performance.

—Wu and Williams

Resources

  • Chunfei Wu and Paul T. Williams (2010) Novel Nano-Ni/SiO2 Catalyst for Hydrogen Production from Steam Reforming of Ethanol. Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP doi: 10.1021/es100912w


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