The reduction and oxidation of ceria: A natural abundance triple oxygen isotope perspective

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© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Ceria (CeO2) is a heavily studied material in catalytic chemistry for use as an oxygen storage medium, oxygen partial pressure regulator, fuel additive, and for the production of syngas, among other applications. Ceria powders are readily reduced and lose structural oxygen when subjected to low pO2 and/or high temperature conditions. Such dis-stoichiometric ceria can then re-oxidize under higher pO2 and/or lower temperature by incorporating new oxygen into the previously formed oxygen site vacancies. Despite extensive studies on ceria, the mechanisms for oxygen adsorption-desorption, dissociation-association, and diffusion of oxygen species on ceria surface and within the crystal structure are not well known. We predict that a large kinetic oxygen isotope effect should accompany the release and incorporation of ceria oxygen. As the first attempt to determine the existence and the degree of the isotope effect, this study focuses on a set of simple room-temperature re-oxidation experiments that are also relevant to a laboratory procedure using ceria to measure the triple oxygen isotope composition of CO2.Triple-oxygen-isotope labeled ceria powders are heated at 700°C and cooled under vacuum prior to exposure to air. By combining results from independent experimental sets with different initial oxygen isotope labels and using a combined mass-balance and triangulation approach, we have determined the isotope fractionation factors for both high temperature reduction in vacuum (≤10-4mbar) and room temperature re-oxidation in air. Results indicate that there is a 1.5‰±0.8‰ increase in the δ18O value of ceria after being heated in vacuum at 700°C for 1h. When the vacuum is broken at room temperature, the previously heated ceria incorporates 3-19% of its final structural oxygen from air, with a δ18O value of 2.1-4.1+7.7‰ for the incorporated oxygen. The substantial incorporation of oxygen from air supports that oxygen mobility is high in vacancy-rich ceria during re-oxidation at room temperature. The quantified oxygen isotope fractionation factors are consistent with the direct involvement of O2 in the rate limiting step for ceria reoxidation in air at room temperature. While additional parameters may reduce some of the uncertainties in our approach, this study demonstrates that isotope effects can be an encouraging tool for studying oxygen transport kinetics in ceria and other oxides. In addition, our finding warns of the special cares and limits in using ceria as an exchange medium for laboratory triple oxygen isotope analysis of CO2 or other oxygen-bearing gases.

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Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta

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