Iron-based CO₂ catalysts have shown promise as a viable route to the production of olefins from CO₂ and H₂ gas. However, these catalysts can suffer from low conversion and high methane selectivity, as well as being particularly vulnerable to water produced during the reaction. In an effort to improve both the activity and durability of iron-based catalysts on an alumina support, copper (10-30%) has been added to the catalyst matrix. In this paper, the effects of copper addition on the catalyst activity and morphology are examined. The addition of 10% copper significantly increases the CO₂ conversion, and decreases methane and carbon monoxide selectivity, without significantly altering the crystallinity and structure of the catalyst itself. The FeCu/K catalysts form an inverse spinel crystal phase that is independent of copper content and a metallic phase that increases in abundance with copper loading (>10% Cu). At higher loadings, copper separates from the iron oxide phase and produces metallic copper as shown by SEM-EDS. An addition of copper appears to increase the rate of the Fischer-Tropsch reaction step, as shown by modeling of the chemical kinetics and the inter- and intra-particle transport of mass and energy.
Keywords: CO2 conversion; activity; copper; iron-based; modelling; selectivity.