Investigation of Zr, Gd/Zr, and Pr/Zr – doped ceria for the redox splitting of water

Darwin Arifin, Andrea Ambrosini, Steven A. Wilson, Bennett Mandal, Christopher L. Muhich, Alan W. Weimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


There is a renewed interest in CeO2 for use in solar-driven, two-step thermochemical cycles for water splitting. However, despite fast reduction/oxidation kinetics and high thermal stability of ceria, the cycle capacity of CeO2 is low due to thermodynamic limitations. In an effort to increase cycle capacity and reduce thermal reduction temperature, we have studied binary zirconium-substituted ceria (ZrxCe1-xO2, x = 0.1, 0.15, 0.25) and ternary praseodymium/gadolinium-doped Zr-ceria (M0.1Zr0.25Ce0.65O2, M = Pr, Gd). We evaluate the oxygen cycle capacity and water splitting performance of crystallographically and morphologically stable powders that are thermally reduced by laser irradiation in a stagnation flow reactor. The addition of zirconium dopant into the ceria lattice improves O2 cycle capacity and H2 production by approximately 30% and 11%, respectively. This improvement is independent of the Zr dopant level, up to 25%, suggesting that above 10% Zr dopant level, Zr might be displaced during the high temperature annealing process. The addition of Pr and Gd to the binary Zr-ceria mixed oxide, on the other hand, is detrimental to H2 production. A kinetic analysis is performed using a model-based analytical approach to account for effects of mixing and dispersion, and to identify the rate controlling mechanism of the water splitting process. We find that the water splitting reaction at 1000 °C and with 30 vol% H2O, for all doped ceria samples, is surface limited and best described by a deceleratory power law model (F-model), similar to undoped CeO2. Additionally, we used density functional theory (DFT) calculations to examine the role of Zr, Pr, and Gd. We find that the addition of Pr and Gd induce non-redox active sites and, therefore, are detrimental to H2 production, in agreement with experimental work. The calculated surface H2 formation step was found to be rate limiting, having activation barriers greater than bulk O diffusion, for all materials. This agrees with and further explains experimental findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-174
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • CeO
  • Cerium dioxide
  • Doped ceria
  • Hydrogen
  • Solar thermochemical
  • Water splitting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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