Cu/ZnO/carbon catalysts for steam reforming reactions were prepared by the technique to obtain much amount of metals highly dispersed on the porous carbon. The preparation method includes the carbonization of an ion exchange resin loaded with metal cations. By containing ZnO in the resin, the agglomeration of Cu particle during the carbonization was suppressed within the carbon matrix due to the difference in the behavior of carbonization and migration between Cu and Zn in the same ion exchange resin, and the Cu particle size was reduced. Thus, the obtained Cu3Zn1 catalyst had more than double the Cu surface area of the catalyst contained only Cu, regardless of lower Cu content. Methanol steam reforming test showed that the catalysts' activity was positively correlated with Cu surface area. Also in dimethyl ether (DME) steam reforming reactions using the composite catalysts with γ-Al2O3, the catalytic activity tracked with the surface area covered by Cu. The optimized Cu/ZnO/carbon catalyst composite showed a high DME conversion of 0.87 even at the low temperature of 300 °C and with GHSV = 2000 h-1, which was due to high dispersion of Cu on the micropore structure of carbon support.
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