Characterization and evaluation of Ni/SiO2 catalysts for hydrogen production and tar reduction from catalytic steam pyrolysis-reforming of refuse derived fuel

Paula H. Blanco, Chunfei Wu, Jude A. Onwudili, Paul T. Williams*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


A series of Ni/SiO2 catalysts have been prepared and investigated for their suitability for hydrogen production and tar reduction in a two-stage pyrolysis-reforming system, using refuse derived fuel (RDF) as the raw material. Experiments were conducted at a pyrolysis temperature of 600°C, and a reforming temperature of 800°C. The product gases were analysed by gas chromatography (GC) and the condensed fraction was collected and quantified using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The effects of the catalyst preparation method, nickel content and the addition of metal promoters (Ce, Mg, Al), were investigated. Catalysts were characterised using BET surface area analysis, temperature programmed oxidation (TPO), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The TPO and SEM analysis of the reacted catalysts showed that amorphous type carbons tended to be deposited over the Ni/SiO2 catalysts prepared by impregnation, while filamentous type carbons were favoured with the sol-gel prepared catalysts. The influence of catalyst promoters (Ce, Mg, Al) added to the Ni/SiO2 catalyst prepared by the sol-gel method was found not to be significant, as the H2 production was not increased and the tar formation was not reduced with the metal-added catalyst. The highest H2 concentration of 57.9vol.% and lower tar amount produced of 0.24mgtar/gRDF; were obtained using the 20wt.% Ni/SiO2 catalyst prepared by sol-gel. On the other hand a low catalytic activity for H2 production and higher tar produced were found for the impregnated series of catalysts, which might be due to the smaller surface area, pore size and due to the formation of amorphous carbons on the catalyst surface. Alkenes and alcohol functional groups were mainly found in the analysed tar samples, with major concentrations of styrene, phenol, indene, cresols, naphthalene, fluorene, and phenanthrene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-250
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Catalysis B: Environmental
Early online date23 Jan 2013
Publication statusPublished - 02 May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Nickel catalysts
  • Pyrolysis
  • RDF
  • Reforming
  • Syngas
  • Tar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


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