Water-assisted generation of catalytic interface: The case of interfacial Pt-FeOx(OH)y sites active in preferential carbon monoxide oxidation

05 September 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


The surface of supported heterogeneous catalysts often contains adsorbed water and hydroxyl groups even when water is not directly added to the reaction stream. Nonetheless, the reactivity of adsorbed water and hydroxyl groups is rarely considered. We demonstrate that water and hydroxyl groups can not only directly participate in the catalytic oxidation processes but are also able to generate and stabilize the catalytically active metal-oxide interface. We show that the reduction of Pt-Fe-supported catalysts with hydrogen in the presence of adsorbed water or steam allows for achieving one of the highest preferential carbon monoxide oxidation activities at ambient temperature. These conditions create active iron-associated hydroxyl groups next to platinum nanoparticles with enhanced reactivity towards carbon mon-oxide oxidation. Density functional theory calculations suggest that hydroxylation of oxidic iron species stabilizes the FeOx(OH)y/Pt interface, via strong metal-support interaction, which is confirmed by chemisorption measurements. Kinetic experiments, including those with 18O-labeled water, in combination with operando infrared spectroscopy, show that water and hydroxyl groups directly participate in preferential carbon monoxide oxidation. A quantitative correlation between the catalytic activity of Pt-FeOx(OH)y/γ-Al2O3 catalysts and the Fe2+ concentration, obtained using operando X-ray absorption spectroscopy, shows that the number of active Fe2+ sites and the carbon monoxide oxidation rate per active site can be significantly increased by water-assisted pretreatment with hydrogen. This work provides a new example of positive role of strong metal-support interaction for the design of more active catalysts.


Preferential CO oxidation
role of water
structure-activity relationship
X-ray absorption spectroscopy
infrared spectroscopy
generation of catalytic interface

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Setup scheme, supporting STEM, EDX, Fe K-edge XAS, DRIFTS, kinetic, isotope labeling experiments, stability tests, DFT calculation details.


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