We investigated hydrogen production by the steam-iron reaction using iron oxide modified with very small amounts of palladium and/or zirconia at a temperature of 723 K and under atmospheric pressure. Reduction of iron oxide with hydrogen and oxidation of partially reduced iron oxide with steam (Fe 3O4 + 4H2 ↔ 3Fe + 4H2O) were repeated in the range of reduction degree of 30-50 mol%. Changes in the weight of the samples were monitored using a tapered element oscillating microbalance (TEOM) to control the degree of reduction. Unmodified iron oxide caused significant deactivation due to sintering with increasing number of redox cycles. The addition of a very small amount (0.23 mol%) of palladium or zirconia onto the surface of the iron oxide enhanced the reduction and/or oxidation of the partially reduced iron oxide, which suppressed sintering. Palladium accelerated both the reduction and oxidation rates of partially reduced iron oxide, while zirconia increased only the oxidation rate. Addition of both palladium and zirconia together to the iron oxide resulted in marked enhancement of both reduction and oxidation.
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