Catalytic decomposition of formic acid in a fixed bed reactor – an experimental and modelling study

Tom Winkler, Fabien Baccot, Kari Eränen, Johan Wärnå, Gerd Hilpmann, Rüdiger Lange, Markus Peurla, Irina Simakova, Henrik Grénman, Dmitry Yu Murzin, Tapio Salmi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
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Formic acid is one of the key components in green chemistry being involved in energy storage, production of chemical intermediates and fuel components. Therefore the knowledge of its stability is of crucial importance and a systematic study of its decomposition is needed. The kinetics of formic acid decomposition to hydrogen and carbon dioxide was investigated in a laboratory-scale fixed bed reactor at 150–225 °C and atmospheric pressure. Palladium nanoparticles deposited on porous active carbon Sibunit were used as the heterogeneous catalyst. The catalyst was characterized by nitrogen physisorption and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy. The average palladium nanoparticle size was 5–6 nm. The impacts of mass transfer resistance and formic acid dimerization were negligible under the reaction conditions. Prolonged experiments revealed that the catalyst had a good stability. Hydrogen and carbon dioxide were the absolutely dominant reaction products, whereas the amounts of carbon monoxide and water were negligible. The experimental data were described with three kinetic models: first order kinetics, two-step adsorption-reaction model and multistep adsorption-decomposition model of formic acid. The multistep model gave the best description of the data.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCatalysis Today
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Oct 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Decomposition
  • Dimerization
  • Formic acid
  • Kinetics
  • Mass transfer
  • Modelling


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