Operando XAS for deNOx catalysis

Elucidating the deactivation pathways of Cu-zeolite-based industrial DeNOx catalysts by means of X-ray absorption spectroscopy complemented by optical spectroscopies and catalytic tests

Air pollution remains a serious environmental problem in Europe. To aid this situation development of efficient catalysts to remove harmful NOx gases from exhaust fumes from vehicles is major priority in both industrial and academic research. Our team has already advanced in the field, elucidating a mechanism of selective catalytic reduction of NOx over Cu-zeolites and determining the structure of their active sites.

In this project we will focus on the stability of the Cu-zeolite catalysts – a property that is crucial for their industrial use. The student will exploit BM23 and ID24 beamlines of the ESRF to perform multi-technique XAS/DRIFTS/MS and HERFD XANES experiments in operando conditions to reveal the mechanisms of hydrothermal aging and sulphur poisoning, which cause deactivation of the catalysts. Synchrotron experiments will be complemented by industrial catalytic tests at Umicore and optical spectroscopy characterization at Turin University, both carried out by the student.

Due to the experience of the project partners and their complementary competences in X-ray absorption spectroscopy, catalytic testing and optical spectroscopy the project is expected to yield major advancements in the chemistry of metal-exchanged zeolites, ensuring an all-round scientific development of the student and providing a solid basis for his/her high-level career in academia or industry.