(100h) Effects of an Electric Field on Product Formation in the Steam Reforming Reaction over a Solid Nickel Catalyst
This project seeks to validate some of the findings of recent in silico work from Dr. McEwen’s research group at Washington State University (Fanglin Che, 2014). Che’s theoretical work shows that the application of an electric field to a nickel catalyst can affect the energetic pathway of CH3 groups adsorbed to the catalyst surface, which implies that certain characteristics of the reaction may be manipulated by using electric fields. In particular, this work investigates the overall methane conversion and hydrogen production rates as a function of applied field as well as coke and surface oxygen formation over the course of the reaction. Significant (though not substantial) changes in CH4 conversion and H2 production rates were observed as a result of an applied field, and coke formation was found to be significantly reduced under a positive electric field but unaffected by a negative electric field. This work also shows that it is possible to apply heretofore prohibitively-high electric fields (a major limitation in previous electric field-based work) safely using a relatively low applied voltage of ±200 V by altering surface topography, taking advantage of Gauss’ Law. This is achieved by using catalyst surfaces with smaller radii of curvature, comparing a relatively flat surface to micron-sized particles, and finally to nanoparticles.