Theoretical investigation of hydrogen adsorption and dissociation on iron and iron carbide surfaces using the ReaxFF reactive force field method

Chenyu Zou, Adri C.T. Van Duin, Dan C. Sorescu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


We have developed a ReaxFF reactive force field to describe hydrogen adsorption and dissociation on iron and iron carbide surfaces relevant for simulation of Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis on iron catalysts. This force field enables large system (>>1000 atoms) simulations of hydrogen related reactions with iron. The ReaxFF force field parameters are trained against a substantial amount of structural and energetic data including the equations of state and heats of formation of iron and iron carbide related materials, as well as hydrogen interaction with iron surfaces and different phases of bulk iron. We have validated the accuracy and applicability of ReaxFF force field by carrying out molecular dynamics simulations of hydrogen adsorption, dissociation and recombination on iron and iron carbide surfaces. The barriers and reaction energies for molecular dissociation on these two types of surfaces have been compared and the effect of subsurface carbon on hydrogen interaction with iron surface is evaluated. We found that existence of carbon atoms at subsurface iron sites tends to increase the hydrogen dissociation energy barrier on the surface, and also makes the corresponding hydrogen dissociative state relatively more stable compared to that on bare iron. These properties of iron carbide will affect the dissociation rate of H 2 and will retain more surface hydride species, thus influencing the dynamics of the FT synthesis process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-401
Number of pages11
JournalTopics in Catalysis
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)

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