Hydrogen is a vital component in several different chemical reactions as well as a potential fuel source for the future. The water gas shift (WGS) reaction converts CO and water to hydrogen and CO2. The objective of this work is to first, characterize the potential benefits of the addition of lanthanum oxide (lanthana) to the iron-chromium-copper (Fe-Cr-Cu) oxide catalysts industrially used in high temperature water gas shift processes, and second, analyze these catalysts using in-situ UV-Visible spectroscopy. The benefits of each component in the catalyst are discussed as well as potential benefits from the addition of lanthana. Lanthana is a rare earth oxide that dramatically increases the surface area of the iron based WGS catalysts, and small concentrations of other rare earth oxides (i.e. cerium) have been shown to increase the rate of desorption of CO2 from iron surfaces (Hu Yanping 2002). Lanthana has similar chemical properties to other rare earth oxides tested and has not been previously tested as an additive to the WGS catalyst. Therefore catalysts with 0, 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 wt% lanthana were made via a co-precipitation method in order to measure changes in activity, physical stability, and thermal stability. Catalyst characterization techniques utilized include electron dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX), temperature programmed reduction (TPR) with hydrogen, and nitrogen physisorption (BET). The kinetic analysis was performed utilizing both mass spectroscopy (MS) and gas chromatography (GC). The addition of 1 wt% lanthana to the Fe-Cr-Cu catalysts increases WGS reaction rates of the catalyst at 425°C and 350°C, however the 0% La catalyst has the highest rates at 375°C and 400°C. The 0% La catalyst shows significant drop off in rate at 425°C, suggesting that the lanthana provides a small thermal stabilizing, i.e. the addition of lanthana prevents catalyst sintering at higher temperatures. Traditionally, chromia acts as the sole thermal stabilizer in these catalysts. The addition of large amounts of lanthana inhibits the chromia stabilizing effect, however small additions of lanthana appear to have an additional catalyst promotional effect without interfering with the chromia thermal stabilization. The increased WGS reaction rates at higher temperatures could allow for greater throughput of reactants in industrial settings. Higher concentrations of lanthana decrease the activity due to what is believed to be disruption of the chromia stabilizing effect as well as reduced amount of the active phase of catalyst. In-situ UV-Visible analysis shows that the oxidation state of the iron in the catalyst has a direct correlation to the UV-Visible light absorbance of the surface of the iron catalyst. Extent of reduction is traditionally measured with a synchrotron which is significantly more expensive than UV-Vis spectroscopy. This study uses the more economical UV-Vis spectrometer to determine similar information. The lanthana doped catalysts show an over-reduction of iron during WGS conditions (i.e. rapid reduction of Fe2O3 to Fe3O4 and FeO).



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Chemical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





extent of reduction, water gas shift, lanthana, UV-visible spectroscopy