Using Water as a Co-catalyst in Heterogeneous Catalysis to Improve Activity and Selectivity

2018 Spring Symposium

Lars C. Grabow, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Houston, Houston, TX 77204-4004, USA

Abstract – “What happens when you add water?” is possibly the most frequently asked question after presentations in heterogeneous catalysis. In this talk, I will demonstrate that this question is indeed paramount and that the presence of even minute amounts of water can drastically change reaction rates and product selectivities. Examples include water-mediated proton hopping across a metal-oxide surface, oxidation of carbon monoxide at the gold/titania interface, and hydrodeoxygenation of phenolic compounds over titania supported ruthenium catalysts. Together, these examples demonstrate that water can act as co-catalyst in a variety of catalytic reactions and by varying the amount of water it may be possible to tune reaction rates and product selectivity.