April 7, 2021
Journal Article

The interaction of reactants, intermediates and products with Cu ions in Cu-SSZ-13 NH3 SCR catalysts: An energetic and ab initio X-ray absorption modeling study


Copper-exchanged SSZ-13 (Cu-SSZ-13) provides excellent catalytic activity and hydrothermal stability in the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) of NOx by using NH3 as a reductant. In this contribution, we compare the most likely positions for Cu with a single charge compensating Al atom (ZCu), including the effect of the adsorption of reactants, intermediates and products of a NH3 SCR reaction by using first-principles calculations based on density functional theory. We find that the 6-membered ring (6MR) site is the most energetically favorable while the 8-membered ring (8MR) sites are less favorable with energy differences about 0.5 eV with respect to the 6MR site. Upon molecular adsorption, the energy differences between Cu in the 8MR and 6MR sites decreases and almost disappears, which means that the thermodynamic stability of ZCu with molecularly adsorbed species is nearly identical for Cu in different sites. Considering more complicated scenarios of NO (or CO) adsorption, we find that the co-adsorption of 2 NO (or 2 CO) molecules weakens their interaction with Cu, as well as their co-adsorption with OH and H2O. The X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) of Cu in Cu-SSZ-13 under different conditions was also modeled from first principles. We find that the pre-edge feature in the K-edge XANES of Cu in clean Cu-SSZ-13 with Cu in a 8MR site is induced by a 1s to 4s transition while there is no pre-edge peak when Cu is in a 6MR site. Molecular adsorption onto Cu in a 6MR or a 8MR site results in the same K-edge XANES. When NO is adsorbed onto Cu in SSZ-13, we find that the origin of the small pre-edge peak in the K-edge XANES lies in a 1s to 3d electron transition. On the other hand, when CO or N2 is adsorbed onto an isolated Cu atom in SSZ-13, a transition from the 1s state to the hybridized state of 3d and 4p results in a pre-edge peak in the K-edge of the XANES spectrum. It is also found that the edge position and intensity of the maximum peak of Cu K-edge XANES depend on the Cu locations and the adsorbed molecules. By studying the Cu K-edge XANES of ZCu with adsorption of species of different oxidizing power, we conclude that a higher oxidation state of Cu will result in a higher energy edge position in the Cu K-edge XANES. These results are expected to greatly aid our understanding of Cu-SSZ-13 SCR catalysts. This work was supported by institutional funds provided to JSM from the Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering. Financial support was also provided by the National Science Foundation GOALI program under contract Nos. CBET-1258717, CBET-1258715 and CBET-1258690. We thank Prof. Fabio Ribeiro, Mr. Atish Parekh, Prof. W. F. Schneider, Mr. Christopher Paolucci, Mr. Trunjoyo Anggara and Prof. Jeff Miller for stimulating discussions on the modeling of the XANES spectrum and Ms. Alyssa Hensley for her comments on the manuscript. J.Sz. acknowledges the financial support of this work by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Vehicle Technologies Program. A portion of the computer time for the computational work was performed using EMSL, a national scientific user facility sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research and located at PNNL. PNNL is a multi-program national laboratory operated for the US DOE by Battelle.

Published: April 7, 2021


Zhang R., J. Szanyi, F. Gao, and J. McEwen. 2016. "The interaction of reactants, intermediates and products with Cu ions in Cu-SSZ-13 NH3 SCR catalysts: An energetic and ab initio X-ray absorption modeling study." Catalysis Science & Technology 6, no. 15:5812-5829. PNNL-SA-107615. doi:10.1039/C5CY02252E