A New Molybdenum Nitride Catalyst with Rhombohedral MoS2 Structure for Hydrogenation Applications

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Nitrogen-rich transition-metal nitrides hold great promise to be the next-generation catalysts for clean and renewable energy applications. However, incorporation of nitrogen into the crystalline lattices of transition metals is thermodynamically unfavorable at atmospheric pressure; most of the known transition metal nitrides are nitrogen-deficient with molar ratios of N:metal less than a unity. In this work, we have formulated a high-pressure route for the synthesis of a nitrogen-rich molybdenum nitride through a solid-state ion-exchange reaction. The newly discovered nitride, 3R–MoN2, adopts a rhombohedral R3m structure, isotypic with MoS2. This new nitride exhibits catalytic activities that are three times more active than the traditional catalyst MoS2 for the hydrodesulfurization of dibenzothiophene and more than twice as high in the selectivity to hydrogenation. The nitride is also catalytically active in sour methanation of syngas with >80% CO and H2 conversion at 723 K. Our formulated route for the synthesis of 3R–MoN2 is at a moderate pressure of 3.5 GPa and, thus, is feasible for industrial-scale catalyst production.


Astrophysics and Astronomy