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Thesis

Transient kinetics and in situ spectroscopic techniques for the characterisation of V/Ti-oxide catalysts in toluene partial oxidation

Development of selective oxidation catalysts is a major concern of modern chemical industry. Among several systems, VTi-oxide based catalysts showed the most promising and versatile, able to catalyse key reactions like oxidation of o-xylene to phtalic anhydride and the abatement of NOx for pollution control. Extensive investigation in the past decades concluded that supported vanadia is present as a layer of molecularly-defined surface compounds VxOy, ("monolayer species") on top of the carrier oxide which are the catalytically active sites. Despite all the efforts to correlate the activity of VTi-oxide with its structure, the catalytic role of the different active species in the selective oxidation of hydrocarbons and how to tune their properties are still open questions. The goal of the present thesis is the in situ characterisation of V/Ti-oxide by transient-response chemical (feed step-response, temperature-programmed analyses) and spectroscopic (infrared and Raman) techniques to answer these important questions by using toluene partial oxidation as test reaction. First, the identification and elucidation of the role of the vanadia species was carried out, using Raman spectroscopy and activity tests. The strongly-bound monolayer species which cannot be dissolved by acid treatment were found to have isolated vanadate structure and be catalytically active in toluene partial oxidation. They have redox properties close to more condensed vanadate ("polymeric") species, which are also active. Vanadium present as crystalline V2O5 is not directly active, but plays a role in the surface reduction mechanism. By in situ DRIFTS, it has been shown that V/Ti-oxide active sites work with a coupled mechanism of product desorption and site reoxidation. Re-oxidation can occur either by reaction with gas-phase O2 or by oxygen spillover from bulk V2O5. Acidity associated with V-O-V bridges in monolayer species is likely responsible for the reversible deactivation of the catalysts caused by strongly held surface coke. Second, the modification of the acid/base catalyst properties by K addition and the formation of surface V oxide species were studied. The presence of K modifies the molecular structure of the vanadia surface species and forms new K-containing ones. These species are difficult to reduce in hydrogen and they are not catalytically active. Their presence causes a diminished catalytic activity. At the same time, Lewis and Brønsted acidity is depressed. This eliminates the phenomenon of deactivation. The excessive basicity caused by potassium addition has a detrimental effect on selectivity in benzoic acid, which is strongly held on the surface because of their intrinsic acidity and undergoes overoxidation to CO2. Finally, the VTi-oxide was supported on structured supports based on woven fibreglass. The use of structured beds is interesting in chemical engineering due to their advantages in terms of increased mass and heat trasfer, reduced pressure drop and optimal flow distribution. In order to reach optimum performance, the rather inert silica surface must be modified by adding an alumina layer on top of the fibres. This modification is essential for an optimal support because of insufficient dispersion of the titania layer on silica due to phase repulsion between the two oxides. The structured catalysts possess comparable activity and identical selectivity to the studied non-structured VTi-oxide catalyst with the same content of vanadia layers.

    Thèse École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, n° 3087 (2004)
    Section de chimie et génie chimique
    Faculté des sciences de base
    Institut des sciences et ingénierie chimiques
    Jury: Christos Comninellis, Lioubov Kiwi, Martin Muhler, Kay Severin, Wendelin Jan Stark

    Public defense: 2004-10-22

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    Record created on 2005-03-16, modified on 2016-08-08

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