The effect of copper on the redox behaviour of iron oxide for chemical-looping hydrogen production probed by in situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy†
The production of high purity hydrogen with the simultaneous capture of CO2, can be achieved through a chemical looping (CL) cycle relying on an iron oxide-based oxygen carrier. Indeed, the availability of active and cyclically stable oxygen carriers is a key criterion for the practical implementation of this technology. In this regard, improving our understanding of the reduction pathway(s) of iron-based oxygen carriers and the development of concepts to increase the reduction kinetics are important aspects. The aim of this work is to evaluate the effect of the addition of copper on the redox behaviour of iron oxide based oxygen carriers stabilized on ZrO2. In situ pulsed-H2 XANES (Fe K-edge) experiments allowed for the determination of the reduction pathways in these materials, viz. the reduction of both Fe2O3 and CuFe2O4 proceeded via a Fe2+ intermediate: Fe2O3 (CuFe2O4) → Fe3O4 (Cu0) → FeO (Cu0) → Fe0 (Cu0). In the first step CuFe2O4 is reduced to Cu0 and Fe3O4, whereby Cu0 promotes the further reduction of iron oxide, increasing their rate of formation. In particular, the rate of reduction of FeO → Fe0 is accelerated most dramatically by Cu0. This is an encouraging result as the FeO → Fe0 transition is the slowest reduction reaction.