A comparative theoretical and experimental investigation on the adsorption of small molecules on anatase and brookite surfaces
The mitigation and conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) to more useful carbon chemicals is a research topic that is at the forefront of current engineering and sustainability applications. Direct photocatalytic reduction of CO2 with water (H2O) vapor to C1-C4 hydrocarbons has significant potential in setting substantial groundwork for meeting the increasing energy demands with minimal environmental impact. Previous studies indicate that titanium dioxide (TiO2) containing materials serve as the best photocatalyst for CO2 and H2O conversion to higher-value products. An understanding of the CO2-H2O reaction mechanism over TiO2 materials allows one to increase the yield of certain products such as carbon monoxide (CO) and methane (CH4). The basis of the work discussed in this thesis, investigates the interaction of small molecules (CO, CH4,H2O) over the least studied TiO2 polymorph - brookite. Using the Gaussian03 computational chemistry software package, density functional theory (DFT) calculations were performed to investigate the adsorption behavior of CO, H2O, and CH4 gases on perfect and oxygen-deficient brookite TiO2 (210) and anatase TiO2 (101) surfaces. The most geometrically and energetically favorable configurations of these molecules on the TiO2 surfaces were computed using the B3LYP/6-31+G(2df,p) functional/basis set. Calculations from this theoretical study indicate all three molecules adsorb more favorably onto the brookite TiO2 (210) surface. Diffuse reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (DRIFTS) was used to investigate the adsorption and desorption behavior of H2O and CH4 on Evonik P25 TiO2. Results from the experimental studies and theoretical work will serve as a significant basis for reaction prediction on brookite TiO2 surfaces.