Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Engineering Science

First Advisor

Wiltowski, Tomasz


Traditional chemical looping technologies utilize solid oxygen carriers and has some disadvantages, especially when solid fuels like coal are used. In this work, a novel chemical looping process using gaseous metal oxide as oxygen carrier was proposed. The reaction of activated charcoal with gas-phase MoO3 was studied for the first time. The experiments were conducted isothermally at different temperatures in a fixed-bed reactor. The apparent activation energy of the reaction was calculated and suitable kinetic models were determined. The results and analysis showed that the proposed concept has potential in both coal chemical looping combustion and gasification process. To further investigate the mechanism of carbon oxidation by gas-phase MoO3, the adsorption of a gaseous (MoO3)3 cluster on a graphene ribbon and subsequent generation of COx was studied by density functional theory (DFT) method and compared with experimental results. The (MoO3)n -graphene complexes show interesting magnetic properties and potentials for nanodevices. A comprehensive analysis of plausible reaction mechanisms of CO and CO2 generation was conducted. Multiple routes to CO and CO2 formation were identified. The (MoO3)3 cluster shows negative catalytic effect for CO formation but does not increase the energy barrier for CO2 formation, indicating CO2 is the primary product. Mechanism of the homogenous MoO3 - CO reaction was studied and showed relatively low energy barriers. The DFT result accounts for key experimental observations of activation energy and product selectivity. The combined theoretical and experimental approach contributes to the understanding of the mechanism of reactions between carbon and metal oxide clusters. To gain a better understanding of the MoO2 oxidation process, the adsorption and dissociation of O2 on MoO2 surface were studied by DFT method. The results show that O2 molecules prefer to be adsorbed on the five-coordinated Mo top sites. Density of states analysis shows strong hybridization of Mo 4d orbitals and O 2p orbitals in the Mo-O bond. Clean MoO2 slab and slabs with O2 adsorption are metallic conductors, while the surface with high O atom coverage is reconstructed and becomes a semiconductor. Surface Mo atoms without adsorbed O or O2 are spin-polarized. The oxygen adsorption shows ability to reduce the spin of surface Mo atoms. The adsorption energy of O2 and O atoms decreases as coverage increases. The transition states of O2 dissociation were located. The energy barriers for O2 dissociation on five-coordinated and four-coordinated Mo top sites are 0.227 eV and 0.281 eV, respectively.




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