Heterogeneous catalysis

The current activities of the heterogeneous catalysis group are focused on understanding catalytic process for screening novel catalytic materials.  We continuously collaborate with the theory group at DTU Physics as well as the Suncat center at Stanford University to explore new catalytic materials. Our approach involves either a circular or a zigzag pattern of complimenting the activities at different steps, namely, theory, model system, characterization and synthesis and testing in order to move closer to finding the best catalyst. The researches that are currently ongoing are as follow:

  • Fixation of CO2 with H2 for fuel production: The research performed on this topic is related to production of methanol and other higher alcohols at low temperature and pressure conditions by fixing CO2 with H2. We have invented a NiGa based intermetallic catalysts that shows comparable activities to the industrially used Cu/Zi/Al2O3.
    Figure in the left showing that the activity of Ni5Ga3/SiO2 is comparable to the industrially used Cu/ZnO/Al2O3.  Reaction condition: 25% CO2, 25% H2, rest inert at atmosppheric pressure The figure is showing that the activity of Ni5Ga3/SiO2 is compareble to the industrilly used Cu/ZnO/Al2O3. Reaction condition: 25% CO2, 25% H2, rest inert at atmospheric pressure

  • Hydrogen generation from ammonia: Ammonia is a high density hydrogen carrier and a zero-carbon fuel but in order to use ammonia as fuel for low temperature fuel cells, it needs to be decomposed through a high temperature catalytic process. The best know catalysts for this process is ruthenium which is a rare metal. We are approaching the reaction from the fundamental point of view in order to find abundant metal catalysts. We have come up with an alloy catalyst based on FeNi that shows comparable activity with hughly optimized Ru/al2O3 catalysts for ammonia decomposition.

    The figure shows that alloys of NiFe containing 15-20% Ni can perform as good as precious metal Ru cased catalyst for ammonia decomposition
    The figure shows that alloys of NiFe containing 15-20% Ni can perform as good as precious metal Ru cased catalyst for ammonia decomposition

  • Selective oxidation of ammonia in H2: removal of trace ammonia from mixture containing up to 75% of H2 is the focus of the research.  One of the possible ways to achieve the trace ammonia removal is to selectively oxidize the ammonia present. But because H2 is so much easier to oxidize compared to ammonia, one needs an extremely selective catalysts for the ammonia oxidation, we have invented a set of catalysts of Fe, Co, Re and Cr on TiO2 for the selective oxidation of trace ammonia in H2. The present work in this area deals with understanding the reaction on the catalysts as well as improving activity and stability of the catalysts.

  • Methanation on Ni-based catalyst: This project deals with the problem of the inhabitation of the methanation reaction on Ni based catalysts due to carbon formation. The goal of the project is to establish understanding of the nature and mechanism of carbon formation in terms of how various carbon deposits form, their governing factors, their kinetics, the effect of the catalyst structure, composition and operating conditions. Consequently, the knowledge gained will be used to improve the design of the current Ni catalyst in terms of carbon deposition rate with the ultimate goal to avoid the poisoning effect of carbon deposition. This project is a joint collaboration between the department of Physics, DTU and Halder Topsøe A/S.

Selected publications - Heterogeneous catalysis

  1. S.B. Simonsen, D. Chakraborty, I. Chorkendorff, S. Dahl, “Alloyed Ni-Fe nanoparticles as catalysts for NH3 decomposition’’, Appl. Catal. A, 447-448 (2012) 22-31.

  2. S. Fogel, D.E. Doronkin, P. Gabrielsson, S. Dahl, 2012, “Optimisation of Ag loading and alumina characteristics to give sulphur-tolerant Ag/Al2O3 catalyst for H2-assisted NH3- SCR of NOx”, Appl. Catal. B, 125, 457-464.

  3. S. Fogel, D.E. Doronkin, J.W. Høj, P. Gabrielsson, S. Dahl, 2013, “Combination of Ag/Al2O3 and Fe-BEA for high-activity catalyst system for H2-assisted NH3-SCR of NOx for lightduty diesel car applications”, Top Catal., 56, 14-18.

  4. D.E. Doronkin, T.S. Khan, T. Bligaard, S. Fogel, P. Gabrielsson, S. Dahl, 2012, “Sulfur poisoning and regeneration of the Ag/γ-Al2O3 catalyst for H2-assisted SCR of NOx by ammonia”, Appl. Catal. B, 117-118, 49-58.

  5. D.E. Doronkin, S. Fogel, S. Tamm, L. Olsson, T.S. Khan, T. Bligaard, P. Gabrielsson, S. Dahl, 2012, “Study of the “Fast SCR”-like mechanism of H2-assisted SCR of NOx with ammonia over Ag/Al2O3”, Appl. Catal. B, 113-114, 228-236.

Patent application - Heterogenous catalysis

  1. D. Chakraborty, S. Olesen, I. Chorkendorff, ‘Catalysts for the selective oxidation of NH3 present in a gas containing H2’, European Patent Application No. 13164836.2, Filed April 2013.

  2. C. F. Elkjær, F. Studt, F. Ablid-Pedersen, I. Sharafutdinov, J. K. Nørskov, S. Dahl, ‘’NiGa catalysts for the production of methanol from synthesis gas’’, Patent application number US20120225956.

Equipment - Heterogeneous catalysis

  • Mass Spectrometer
  • Gas Chromatograph
  • FTIR


Debasish Chakraborty
Scientific Business Developer
DTU Physics
+45 45 25 31 98


Ib Chorkendorff
DTU Physics
+45 45 25 31 70


Jane Hvolbæk Nielsen
Head of Department, Professor
DTU Physics
+45 45 25 32 22


Christian Danvad Damsgaard
Associate professor
+45 45 25 64 87


Jakob Kibsgaard
Assistant Professor
DTU Physics
+45 45 25 32 90