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China team develops highly active catalyst for hydrogen production from methanol-water

Methanol–water reforming could prove to be a promising solution for hydrogen production/transportation in stationary and mobile hydrogen applications. However, developing inexpensive catalysts with sufficiently high activity, selectivity, and stability remains challenging.

A team from Peking University and colleagues have now developed a nickel-supported over face-centered cubic (fcc) phase α-MoC catalyst which exhibits extraordinary hydrogen production activity in the aqueous-phase methanol reforming reaction.

Under optimized conditions, Ni/α-MoC exhibits a hydrogen production rate of 2%—about 6 times higher than that of conventional noble metal 2% Pt/Al2O3 catalyst.

In a paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the team reported that Ni is atomically dispersed over α-MoC via carbon bridge bonds, forming a Ni1–Cx motif on the carbide surface. Such Ni1–Cx motifs can effectively stabilize the isolated Ni1 sites over the α-MoC substrate, rendering maximized active site density and high structural stability.

In addition, the synergy between Ni1–Cx motif and α-MoC produces an active interfacial structure for water dissociation, methanol activation, and successive reforming processes with compatible activity.


  • Lili Lin, Qiaolin Yu, Mi Peng, Aowen Li, Siyu Yao, Shuheng Tian, Xi Liu, Ang Li, Zheng Jiang, Rui Gao, Xiaodong Han, Yong-wang Li, Xiao-dong Wen, Wu Zhou, and Ding Ma (2020) “Atomically Dispersed Ni/α-MoC Catalyst for Hydrogen Production from Methanol/Water” Journal of the American Chemical Society doi: 10.1021/jacs.0c10776


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