Assessing the Role of Interfacial and Metal Sites in Pt/TiO2-Catalyzed Acetic Acid Hydrodeoxygenation

Sean Tacey, Carrie Farberow

Research output: NRELPresentation


Thermochemical conversion of biomass to produce drop-in quality biofuels typically involves hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) steps following catalytic fast pyrolysis (CFP) to remove excess oxygen and create a more-stable bio-oil product. HDO reactions are performed by co-feeding the CFP vapor-phase product and H2 gas over a bi-functional catalyst. Noble-metal catalysts supported on reducible metal oxides (e.g., Pt/TiO2) are active and selective toward these HDO reactions. Griffin and co-workers showed that Pt/TiO2 catalysts promote the desired deoxygenation steps for m-cresol HDO while mitigating undesired C-C bond-breaking steps that reduce the overall value/energy density of the biofuel. Such model-compound studies to inform the design of improved catalysts for HDO chemistry are necessary to improve the overall process economics/efficiencies for biofuels production. One important class of bio-derived compounds that has not been studied extensively with respect to HDO chemistry, particularly at the atomic level, is carboxylic acids. Past experimental work indicates that Pt/C and Pt/TiO2 catalysts are selective toward C-C and C-O bond-dissociation products for acetic acid HDO, respectively. To understand the role of Pt/TiO2 active sites in this observed change in selectivity and guide catalyst development, the work in this presentation focuses on modeling the role of Pt-metal and Pt-TiO2-interfacial sites in promoting key C-C bond-breaking, C-O bond-breaking, and (de)hydrogenation steps in acetic acid HDO. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations were performed using the Vienna Ab initio Simulation Package (VASP). The exchange-correlation functional was approximated by the Perdew-Burke-Ernzerhof functional. Dispersion interactions were captured using the D3 method. Projector augmented-wave potentials described electron-ion interactions, and electron wavefunctions were expanded via a planewave basis with an energy cutoff of 500 eV. Activation barriers were calculated using the climbing image nudged elastic band method. Results and Discussion: To discern the role of Pt-metal and Pt-TiO2 interface sites in promoting acetic acid HDO chemistry, Pt(111) slab and anatase TiO2(101)-supported Pt-nanowire (PtNW/OH-TiO2) surface models were constructed, respectively. Because H2 is co-fed in HDO reactions, the anatase support was terminated with OH groups. Interfacial vacancies have been shown to facilitate Ru/TiO2-catalyzed phenol HDO; thus, an interfacial model with an OH vacancy was also considered (PtNW/OHv-TiO2). Pt-TiO2-interface sites stabilize adsorption of all studied acetic acid HDO surface intermediates relative to terrace Pt-metal sites, particularly when an interfacial-OH vacancy is present. Oxygenated species prefer to bind at the OH vacancy through the O atom, suggesting a preference for C-O over C-C bond cleavage at these sites. This hypothesis is supported by net-negative and net-positive average shifts in the reaction energy and activation energy barriers for C-O and C-C bond-breaking steps, respectively, at Pt-TiO2-interface sites relative to Pt-metal sites. Using the calculated energetics, the predicted minimum-energy pathway was determined for each surface. Pt(111) is predicted to follow decarboxylation, producing undesired methane and carbon dioxide. Conversely, PtNW/OH-TiO2 and PtNW/OHv-TiO2 are both predicted to produce desired acetaldehyde and ethane. The interfacial vacancy may also play a key role in facilitating the first C-O bond-breaking step in acetic acid HDO, lowering the barrier by 0.6 eV relative to the defect-free interface model. These results demonstrate the critical role of the Pt-TiO2 interface in the shift in acetic acid HDO selectivity experimentally observed on Pt/C and Pt/TiO2 catalysts. The results herein demonstrate the important role of the Pt-TiO2 interface and interfacial oxygen vacancies in improving the carbon efficiency for HDO reactions in CFP upgrading.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages18
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePresented at the 27th North American Catalysis Society Meeting, 22-27 May 2022, New York, New York

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5100-83001


  • catalytic fast pyrolysis
  • density functional theory
  • interfacial catalysis
  • minimum energy pathway
  • vacancy sites


Dive into the research topics of 'Assessing the Role of Interfacial and Metal Sites in Pt/TiO2-Catalyzed Acetic Acid Hydrodeoxygenation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this