Metal–support interaction on cobalt based FT catalysts – a DFT study of model inverse catalysts
It is challenging to isolate the effect of metal–support interactions on catalyst reaction performance. In order to overcome this problem, inverse catalysts can be prepared in the laboratory and characterized and tested at relevant conditions. Inverse catalysts are catalysts where the precursor to the catalytically active phase is bonded to a support-like ligand. We can then view the metal–support interaction as a ligand interaction with the support acting as a supra-molecular ligand. Importantly, laboratory studies have shown that these ligands are still present after reduction of the catalyst. By varying the quantity of these ligands present on the surface, insight into the positive effect SMSI have during a reaction is gained. Here, we present a theoretical study of mono-dentate alumina support based ligands, adsorbed on cobalt surfaces. We find that the presence of the ligand may significantly affect the morphology of a cobalt crystallite. With Fischer–Tropsch synthesis in mind, the CO dissociation is used as a probe reaction, with the ligand assisting the dissociation, making it feasible to dissociate CO on the dense fcc Co(111) surface. The nature of the interaction between the ligand and the probe molecule is characterized, showing that the support-like ligands’ metal centre is directly interacting with the probe molecule.