This invention provides catalysts for the oxidation of hydrogen sulfide. In particular, the invention provides catalysts for the partial oxidation of hydrogen sulfide to elemental sulfur and water. The catalytically active component of the catalyst comprises a mixture of metal oxides containing titanium oxide and one or more metal oxides which can be selected from the group of metal oxides or mixtures of metal oxides of transition metals or lanthanide metals. Preferred metal oxides for combination with TiO.sub.2 in the catalysts of this invention include oxides of V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Nb, Mo, Tc, Ru, Rh, Hf, Ta, W, Au, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Pm, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, and Lu. Catalysts which comprise a homogeneous mixture of titanium oxide and niobium (Nb) oxide are also provided. A preferred method for preparing the precursor homogenous mixture of metal hydroxides is by coprecipitation of titanium hydroxide with one or more other selected metal hydroxides. Catalysts of this invention have improved activity and/or selectivity for elemental sulfur production. Further improvements of activity and/or selectivity can be obtained by introducing relatively low amounts (up to about 5 mol %)of a promoter metal oxide (preferably of metals other than titanium and that of the selected second metal oxide) into the homogeneous metal/titanium oxide catalysts of this invention.
This invention was made at least in part with United States Government funding through Department of Energy Grant No.DE-FG03-95ER82088. The United States Government has certain rights in this invention.