Fundamental catalysis

We use ambient pressure photoelectron spectroscopy (APXPS), near edge x-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) spectroscopy, and polarisation modulation infrared reflection absorption spectroscopy (PM-IRRAS), to monitor the changes in the chemical state of the surface as well as the chemical nature, adsorption energies, and adsorption sites of the reactant molecules on the surface. A critical common trait of all of these techniques is that they can be applied under reaction conditions.

Methanol economy

We are interested in methanol conversion and methanol synthesis reactions on Cu surfaces, which together consititute the carbon-neutral 'methanol economy'. 

Selected papers:

R. Ben David, A. Ben Yaacov, A. R. Head, B. Eren. Methanol Decomposition on Copper Surfaces under Ambient Conditions: Mechanism, Surface Kinetics, and Structure Sensitivity. ACS Catal. 2022, 12, 7709-7718

R. Ben David, A. Ben Yaacov, B. Eren. Effect of Surface Orientation on Methanol Adsorption and Thermally Induced Structural Transformations on Copper Surfaces. J. Phys. Chem. C 2021, 125, 6099-107

B. Eren, C. G. Sole, J. S. Lacasa, D. Grinter, F. Venturini, G. Held, C. S. Esconjauregui, R. S. Weatherup. Identifying the Catalyst Chemical State and Adsorbed Species during Methanol Conversion on Copper using Ambient Pressure X-ray Spectroscopies. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 2020 22, 18806-14 

Oil economy

We are interested in understanding the surface chemistry in two reactions. The first one is the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, which is the conversion of a mixture of CO and H2 into hydrocarbons, typically catalysed by Co-based nanoparticle catalysts in industrial processes. This is a way of producing petroluem-products, alternative to using crude oil. We are currently developing tools to operate APXPS at atmospheric pressure in order to address a few debated questions in the literature regarding the reaction mechanism. 

The second project we are interested is the catalytic hydrogenation of alkynes, which is a commercially important reaction used in the purification of alkene streams in the petrochemical industry. We are interested in answering some of the fundamental question regarding ceria-hydrogen interaction and ceria-acetylene interaction. 

Selected papers:

B. Eren, A. Head. Carbon Monoxide Adsorption on Manganese oxide / cobalt: An Ambient Pressure X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy Study. J. Phys. Chem. C 2020, 124, 3557-63 

Hydrogen economy

Currenly, oxygen evolution reaction (OER) and oxygen reduction reaction (OER) are problematic in fuel cell + electrolyser technologies, because of their high overpotentials. So far, we have not started our research in this topic, but we are collecting priliminary data on the feasibility of our approach.