Novel phosphide catalysts for hydrogenation and hydrotreating reactions

The global goal to avoid the exploitation of fossil resources by focusing on renewable sources requires novel process concepts and innovative catalytic systems. In this context, hydrogen obtained from water electrolysis plays a key role to combine the sectors of energy generation and chemical production. As a result, the demand for efficient, stable and economic catalysts for hydrogen production and hydrogenation reactions is increasing. In the same context, hydrotreating reactions enable defunctionalisation (removal of N-, S- and O-groups) of biological raw materials to provide applicable biofuels and processible platform chemicals. Catalytic systems for these hydrogen-involving reactions, often require noble metals like platinum or palladium. Despite a remarkable activity and stability in hydrogen activation, their high costs and scarcity impel the search for cheaper and more abundant alternatives.

Promising candidates are metal and mixed metal phosphides as they offer multifunctional sites, high temperature stability, and novel geometric and electronic surface structures. Catalytic activity of some metal phosphides, mainly based on molybdenum, nickel, cobalt, or iron have been proven successful in hydrogen production or consumption reactions. Other transition metal or main-group metal phosphides containing e.g., vanadium, manganese, indium, or gallium are less frequently applied in catalysis. As a rather unexplored field of science, bimetallic phosphides are considered highly potential catalytic materials for selective reactions. In the research group “Catalytic Systems for Chemical Energy Storage” we want to evaluate the potential of these phosphide based catalysts for hydrogenation and hydrotreating reactions and develop efficient production routes for chemicals and future energy carriers.