Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Carbide and Nitride Supported Water Gas Shift Catalysts

Technology #2542


Hydrogen gas has a number of important industrial applications in petroleum refining, powering fuel cells, in the production and processing of chemicals, and in semi-conductor materials manufacture. Hydrogen is a constituent of widely available molecules such as water and hydrocarbons. As a result, hydrogen gas for use in industrial applications is usually produced from water or hydrocarbon through a series of chemical reactions enhanced by the use of catalysts. One industrial process used in the production of hydrogen converts a hydrocarbon such as natural gas or diesel fuel into a hydrogen rich gas. In an initial reaction, the hydrocarbon is reacted with water or oxygen to form hydrogen gas and other by-products. Those by-products, specifically carbon monoxide, may be further reacted with water to yield additional amounts of hydrogen. This process, called a water gas shift reaction, is a key reaction in the conversion of hydrocarbons into hydrogen gas.


The water gas shift reaction is generally carried out by passing a gas stream containing reactants over a solid catalyst in a heterogeneous reaction. The rate of conversion of reactant into hydrogen and the overall yield of hydrogen are dependent on the function and nature of the catalyst used. Furthermore, the size, weight, and cost of systems used to generate hydrogen depend on the efficiency of the catalyst for the water gas shift reaction. This invention improves upon the effectiveness of catalysts used in water gas shift reactions, which offers many benefits over similar processes. This novel catalyst has been found to be much more active for the water gas shift reaction than other catalysts, resulting in faster reaction rates. In addition, the use of this catalyst could result in a significant reduction in associated reactor sizes, thus reducing costs.