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Fan Group research highlighted by Nature Communication

The editors at Nature Communications have put together an Editors' Highlights webpage of recent research on Inorganic, Nanoscale and Physical Chemistry, which includes an article by the Fan Group titled “Near 100% CO selectivity in nanoscaled iron-based oxygen carriers for chemical looping methane partial oxidation."

The article is linked prominently on the Nature Communications homepage and a dedicated Editors’ Highlights page (https://www.nature.com/ncomms/editorshighlights).

In the article, authors Yan Liu, Lang Qin, Zhuo Cheng, Josh W. Goetze, Fanhe Kong, Jonathan A. Fan & Liang-Shih Fan describe how they designed and developed a mesoporous silica-supported nanoparticle oxygen carrier that enables a near 100% CO generation with high recyclability at a significantly lower temperature range than in conventional oxygen carrier systems. The value of product selectivity is so far the highest observed for chemical looping systems. 

These findings contribute to a nanoscale understanding of the underlying metal oxide redox chemistry for chemical looping processes, and provide a systematic strategy toward the design of robust oxygen carrier nanoparticles with superior activity and selectivity at a broader operating temperature window. (Visualized below:)Chemical looping partial oxidation with methane. a) Schematic of the chemical looping partial oxidation process; b) structure and CO selectivity in conventional oxygen carrier vs Fe2O3@SBA-15 oxygen carrier.Chemical looping partial oxidation with methane. a) Schematic of the chemical looping partial oxidation process; b) structure and CO selectivity in conventional oxygen carrier vs Fe2O3@SBA-15 oxygen carrier.

Abstract

Chemical looping methane partial oxidation provides an energy and cost effective route for methane utilization. However, there is considerable COco-production in current chemical looping systems, rendering a decreased productivity in value-added fuels or chemicals. In this work, we demonstrate that the co-production of COcan be dramatically suppressed in methane partial oxidation reactions using iron oxide nanoparticles embedded in mesoporous silica matrix. We experimentally obtain near 100% CO selectivity in a cyclic redox system at 750–935 °C, which is a significantly lower temperature range than in conventional oxygen carrier systems. Density functional theory calculations elucidate the origins for such selectivity and show that low-coordinated lattice oxygen atoms on the surface of nanoparticles significantly promote Fe–O bond cleavage and CO formation. We envision that embedded nanostructured oxygen carriers have the potential to serve as a general materials platform for redox reactions with nanomaterials at high temperatures.

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Liu, Y., Qin, L., Cheng, Z. et al. Near 100% CO selectivity in nanoscaled iron-based oxygen carriers for chemical looping methane partial oxidation. Nat Commun 10, 5503 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-13560-0