The accumulation of alkali metals generated during biomass combustion onto the catalysts employed for off-gas treatment can have a detrimental effect on their performance. This work investigates the effect of potassium as a model alkali on an efficient copper-based catalyst supported on SmCeO2 @TiO2. The addition of potassium modifies the redox properties of the Cu species or, more specifically, the metal-ceria interface, providing better catalytic activity for NO reduction in oxidizing conditions. SmCeO2 @TiO2 stabilizes highly dispersed copper species, and the presence of potassium introduces surface distortions that modify the lability of oxygen atoms. The results demonstrate the key role of surface defects and labile oxygen species associated with the CeO2 support. It was found that both Cu/SmCeO2 @TiO2 and K/Cu/SmCeO2 @TiO2 catalysts fully oxidized CO below 350 °C and actively reduced NO with CO in the presence of excess oxygen, reaching a maximum NO conversion of 65% at 316 °C and 83% at 330 °C, respectively, while undesired NO2 release was minimized in the alkaline-loaded sample.
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