Shedding Light Onto the Nature of Iron Decorated Graphene and Graphite Oxide Nanohybrids for CO2 Conversion at Atmospheric Pressure

Rhodri Owen, Fernando Cortezon Tamarit, David Gonzalez Calatayud, Enid A. Evans, Samuel I. J. Mitchell, Boyang Mao, Francisco J. Palomares, John Mitchels, Pawel Plucinski, Davide Mattia, Matthew Jones, Sofia Pascu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


We report on the design and testing of new graphite and graphene oxide-based extended π-conjugated synthetic scaffolds for applications in sustainable chemistry transformations. Nanoparticle-functionalised carbonaceous catalysts for new Fischer Tropsch and Reverse GasWater Shift (RGWS) transformations were prepared: functional graphene oxides emerged from graphite powders via an adapted Hummer's method and subsequently impregnated with uniform-sized nanoparticles. Then the resulting nanomaterials were imaged by TEM, SEM, EDX, AFM and characterised by IR, XPS and Raman spectroscopies prior to incorporation of Pd(II) promoters and further microscopic and spectroscopic analysis. Newly synthesised 2D and 3D layered nanostructures incorporating carbon-supported iron oxide nanoparticulate pre-catalysts were tested, upon hydrogen reduction in situ, for the conversion of CO 2 to CO as well as for the selective formation of CH 4 and longer chain hydrocarbons. The reduction reaction was also carried out and the catalytic species isolated and fully characterised. The catalytic activity of a graphene oxide-supported iron oxide pre-catalyst converted CO 2 into hydrocarbons at different temperatures (305, 335, 370 and 405 °C), and its activity compared well with that of the analogues supported on graphite oxide, the 3-dimensional material precursor to the graphene oxide. Investigation into the use of graphene oxide as a framework for catalysis showed that it has promising activity with respect to reverse gas water shift (RWGS) reaction of CO 2 to CO, even at the low levels of catalyst used and under the rather mild conditions employed at atmospheric pressure. Whilst the γ-Fe 2O 3 decorated graphene oxide-based pre-catalyst displays fairly constant activity up to 405 °C, it was found by GC-MS analysis to be unstable with respect to decomposition at higher temperatures. The addition of palladium as a promoter increased the activity of the iron functionalised graphite oxide in the RWGS. The activity of graphene oxide supported catalysts was found to be enhanced with respect to that of iron-functionalised graphite oxide with, or without palladium as a promoter, and comparable to that of Fe@carbon nanotube-based systems tested under analogous conditions. These results display a significant step forward for the catalytic activity estimations for the iron functionalised and rapidly processable and scalable graphene oxide. The hereby investigated phenomena are of particular relevance for the understanding of the intimate surface morphologies and the potential role of non-covalent interactions in the iron oxide-graphene oxide networks, which could inform the design of nano-materials with performance in future sustainable catalysis applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-252
Number of pages11
Issue number2
Early online date14 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2020


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