ConspectusA clear correlation between electronic structure and CO2 selectivity for steam reforming of methanol (SRM) was obtained with PdZn, PtZn, NiZn, and PdCd intermetallics on the basis of experiments and calculations. In order to rule out the effects of oxide supports, the intermetallic powders were simply prepared by alloying in an arc furnace followed by crushing in a mortar. PdZn and PdCd exhibit valence electronic densities of states similar to that of Cu and significant chemical shifts (larger than 1 eV) of Pd 3d states with respect to pure Pd, as verified by high-resolution hard X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (HXPS) measurements and density functional theory (DFT) calculations. Consequently, they show the similar high selectivity of CO2 for the SRM reaction. However, this is not the case for PtZn and NiZn because of the slight differences in their valence electronic structures from that of PdZn. The interval between the Fermi level and the top of the d band is closely related to the selectivity of CO2 for the SRM: the larger the interval is, the higher is the selectivity of CO2. According to DFT calculations for bulk PdZn performed by Chen et al. (Phys. Rev. B 2003, 68, 075417), the (111) and (100) surfaces exposing Zn and Pd in an equimolar ratio are more stable than the (001) or (110) surfaces terminated by alternative Zn or Pd layers. First-principles slab calculations for PdZn, PtZn, and NiZn show that bond breaking on the surface leads to a reduction in the d bandwidth but that the d band for stable (111) or (100) surfaces remains essentially unchanged from that of the bulk. It is intriguing that PdZn and PdCd do not contain Cu but show similar valence electronic structure and catalytic selectivity, and hence, a concept is proposed where PdZn and PdCd are regarded as pseudoelements of Cu. The basis of this concept is like electronic structure, like catalysis, which has been demonstrated by experiments and calculations. This is a logical way to enable us to look for new catalysts in which precious metals are partially or completely replaced by base metals. We do not expect that this concept can be applied to all catalytic reactions, but this approach is one of most promising ways to derive a better understanding of the origin of catalytic mechanisms and eventually allow us to design useful catalysts intentionally in the future. This Account reviews the authors' published works on this topic.
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