It is important yet difficult to distinguish the specific roles of superficial Oxn- and interfacial lattice oxygen in catalytic combustion, especially over catalysts consisting of reducible metal oxides. In this study, based on the comparison of two natural counterparts with similar structure — CeO2 (an Oxn- generator) and Pr6O11 (a lattice oxygen contributor), it is suggested that the catalytic combustion of propane under lean-burn conditions followed a typical Mars-van Krevelen mechanism, in which catalyst lattice oxygen represented the dominant reactive
phases while superficial Oxn- played negligible roles. As for soot combustion, adsorbed Oxn- represented more sustainable oxidants than lattice oxygen (drained easily at the beginning of the reactions). Such a comparison is readily achieved and widely applicable, which may shed light on the identification of dominant reactive phases for various oxidation reactions over oxide-based catalysts.