Ni-Phosphide catalysts as versatile systems for gas-phase CO2 conversion:
Impact of the support and evidences of structure-sensitivity


We report for the first time the support dependent activity and selectivity of Ni-rich nickel phosphide catalysts for CO2 hydrogenation. New catalysts for CO2 hydrogenation are needed to commercialise the reverse water–gas shift reaction (RWGS) which can feed captured carbon as feedstock for traditionally fossil fuel-based processes, as well as to develop flexible power-to-gas schemes that can synthesise chemicals on demand using surplus renewable energy and captured CO2. Here we show that Ni2P/SiO2 is a highly selective catalyst for RWGS, producing over 80% CO in the full temperature range of 350–750 ◦C. This indicates a high degree of suppression of the methanation reaction by phosphide formation, as Ni catalysts are known for their high methanation activity. This is shown to not simply be a site blocking effect, but to arise from the formation of a new more active site for RWGS. When supported on Al2O3 or CeAl, the dominant phase of as synthesized catalysts is Ni12P5. These Ni12P5 catalysts behave very differently compared to Ni2P/SiO2, and show activity for methanation at low temperatures with a switchover to RWGS at higher temperatures (reaching or approaching thermodynamic equilibrium behaviour). This switchable activity is interesting for applications where flexibility in distributed chemicals production from captured CO2 can be desirable. Both Ni12P5/Al2O3 and Ni12P5/CeAl show excellent stability over 100 h on stream, where they switch between methanation and RWGS reactions at 50–70% conversion. Catalysts are characterized before and after reactions via X-ray Diffraction (XRD), X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), temperature-programmed reduction and oxidation (TPR, TPO), Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), and BET surface area measurement. After reaction, Ni2P/SiO2 shows the emergence of a crystalline Ni12P5 phase while Ni12P5/Al2O3 and Ni12P5/CeAl both show the crystalline Ni3P phase. While stable activity of the latter catalysts is demonstrated via extended testing, this Ni enrichment in all phosphide catalysts shows the dynamic nature of the catalysts during operation. Moreover, it demonstrates that both the support and the phosphide phase play a key role in determining selectivity towards CO or CH4.

(A) In situ XRD patterns under H2 or inert atmosphere (N2) of the catalysts up to 600 °C or 700 °C. (B) XRD patterns of spent catalysts. Symbols: ♥ MoxC ♣ MoOxCy, ♦ MoO2, x Mo, ♠ Cu, Φ CuO.

Paper information


Fuel, Volume 323, 1 September 2022, 124301


Q.Zhang, L.Pastor-Pérez, J.J.Villora-Pico, M.Joyce, A.Sepúlveda-Escribano, M.S.Duyar T.R.Reina



CO2 conversion
Switchable Catalysts
Ni Phosphide