Research ArticleChemistry

Rationally designed indium oxide catalysts for CO2 hydrogenation to methanol with high activity and selectivity

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Science Advances  17 Jun 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 25, eaaz2060
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz2060

Abstract

Renewable energy-driven methanol synthesis from CO2 and green hydrogen is a viable and key process in both the “methanol economy” and “liquid sunshine” visions. Recently, In2O3-based catalysts have shown great promise in overcoming the disadvantages of traditional Cu-based catalysts. Here, we report a successful case of theory-guided rational design of a much higher performance In2O3 nanocatalyst. Density functional theory calculations of CO2 hydrogenation pathways over stable facets of cubic and hexagonal In2O3 predict the hexagonal In2O3(104) surface to have far superior catalytic performance. This promotes the synthesis and evaluation of In2O3 in pure phases with different morphologies. Confirming our theoretical prediction, a novel hexagonal In2O3 nanomaterial with high proportion of the exposed {104} surface exhibits the highest activity and methanol selectivity with high catalytic stability. The synergy between theory and experiment proves highly effective in the rational design and experimental realization of oxide catalysts for industry-relevant reactions.

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