Mechanism of CO2 hydrogenation over Cu/ZrO2(2̄ 12) interface from first-principles kinetics Monte Carlo simulations

Qi Jun Hong, Zhi Pan Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


It has been a goal consistently pursued by chemists to understand and control the catalytic process over composite materials. In order to provide deeper insight on complex interfacial catalysis at the experimental conditions, we performed an extensive analysis on CO2 hydrogenation over a Cu/ZrO2 model catalyst by employing density functional theory (DFT) calculations and kinetic Monte Carlo (kMC) simulations based on the continuous stirred tank model. The free energy profiles are determined for the reaction at the oxygen-rich Cu/m-ZrO2 (2̄12) interface, where all interfacial Zr are six-coordinated since the interface accumulates oxidative species at the reaction conditions. We show that not only methanol but also CO are produced through the formate pathway dominantly, whilst the reverse-water-gas-shift (RWGS) channel has only a minor contribution. H 2CO is a key intermediate species in the reaction pathway, the hydrogenation of which dictates the high temperature of CO2 hydrogenation. The kinetics simulation shows that the CO2 conversion is 1.20%, the selectivity towards methanol is 68% at 500 K and the activation energies for methanol and CO formation are 0.79 and 1.79 eV, respectively. The secondary reactions due to the product readsorption lower the overall turnover frequency (TOF) but increase the selectivity towards methanol by 16%. We also show that kMC is a more reliable tool for simulating heterogeneous catalytic processes compared to the microkinetics approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1869-1876
Number of pages8
JournalSurface Science
Issue number21-22
StatePublished - Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • CO fixation
  • Cu/ZrO
  • Density functional calculations
  • Heterogeneous catalysis
  • Kinetic Monte Carlo
  • Metal/oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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