Modeling the surface chemistry of biomass model compounds on oxygen-covered Rh(100)†
Rhodium-based catalysts are potential candidates to process biomass and serve as a representation of the class of noble metal catalysts for biomass-related processes. Biomass can be processed in aqueous media (hydrolysis and aqueous phase reforming), and in this case the surface chemistry involves hydroxyl (OH) species. In our study this was modelled by the presence of pre-adsorbed oxygen. Ethylene glycol, with a hydroxyl group on every carbon atom, serves as a model compound to understand the conversion of biomass derived molecules into desirable chemicals on catalytically active metal surfaces. Ethanol (containing one OH group) serves as a reference molecule for ethylene glycol (containing two OH groups) to understand the interaction of C–OH functionalities with a Rh(100) surface. The surface chemistry of ethylene glycol and ethanol in the presence of pre-adsorbed oxygen on a Rh(100) surface has been studied via temperature programmed reaction spectroscopy (TPRS) and reflection absorption infrared spectroscopy (RAIRS) using various coverages of O(ad) and ethylene glycol and ethanol. Pre-adsorbed oxygen alters the decomposition chemistry of both compounds, thereby affecting the product distribution. Under an oxygen-lean condition, the selectivity to produce methane from ethanol is enhanced significantly (4.5-fold with respect to that obtained on the oxygen-free surface). For ethylene glycol, oxygen-lean conditions promote the formation of formaldehyde, with 10–15% selectivity. In addition, with Oad present the fraction of molecules that decompose on the surface increases 2-fold for ethanol and 1.5-fold for ethylene glycol, due to fast O–H bond activation by pre-adsorbed oxygen. Under oxygen-rich conditions, the decomposition products are mainly oxidized to carbon dioxide and water for both molecules. In this condition, the promotion effect provided by adsorbed oxygen for the dissociative adsorption of ethanol and ethylene glycol is reduced due to the site blocking effect of oxygen.