Lehigh chemical and biomolecular engineering Professor Israel Wachs seeks to understand and redesign high-temperature water-gas shift (WGS) catalysts to avoid the use of chromium and associated environmental and health risks.

Wachs was recently awarded an NSF contract entitled SusChEM: Rational Design of High Temperature Water-Gas Shift Catalysts with Non-Toxic Earth-Abundant Elements.

Currently, chromium-containing catalysts are used almost exclusively for this important reaction that generates hydrogen from carbon monoxide and water. The new project will utilize state-of-the art catalyst characterization and mechanistic tools to understand the detailed surface reactions that occur under high-temperature water-gas shift reaction conditions, and then propose new formulations based on known properties of potential low-cost substitute materials.

If successful, this project could transform the industrial process for high temperature WGS while avoiding chromium-related risks.