The synthesis of new heterogeneous Fischer-Tropsch catalysts: the incorporation of metal aggregates in mesoporous silicas

Nicole Hondow

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Transition metals have been extensively studied as catalysts, and certain metals are known to be highly selective and active for certain processes. It is possible to use metal clusters as models for reactions occurring at metal surfaces, but it is often found that in practical applications these complexes are unstable and break down. It is possible to support or stabilise a metal species on, or in, an inorganic framework, making heterogeneous catalysts. A study of metal cluster chemistry with mixed-donor phosphine ligands was conducted, with several new ruthenium complexes synthesised. The chemistry of metal-sulfur interactions is applicable to the removal of sulfur from crude oil, and in an investigation to this chemistry, the bifunctional ligand HSCH2CH2PPhH was added to ruthenium clusters (Chapter 2). The addition of this sulfur-phosphine ligand to the cluster [Ru3([mu]-dppm)(CO)10] produced the carbonyl substituted cluster [Ru3([mu]-dppm)(H)(CO)7(SCH2CH2PPhH)] and the bridged complex [Ru3([mu]-dppm)(H)(CO)8(SCH2CH2PPhH)Ru3([mu]-dppm)(CO)9], as well as recovery of the starting material. Further reactions with this ligand were examined with [Ru3(CO)12] and other complexes were synthesised with different clusters and ligands (Chapter 2). The M41S materials, MCM-41 and MCM-48, are well ordered porous materials with high surface areas (Chapter 3). The incorporation of three different types of metal species, metallosurfactants, metal clusters and nanoparticles, into these materials was examined in an attempt to make heterogeneous catalysts for the Fischer-Tropsch process. The success of this was studied using characterisation techniques such as powder X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy and BET surface area measurements. Metallosurfactants containing either copper or cobalt were added directly to the synthesis of the porous materials in an attempt to incorporate the metals into the framework structure of the porous silica (Chapter 3). This resulted in well ordered iv porous materials, but the successful incorporation of the metal species was found to be dependent on several factors. Organometallic clusters containing metals such as copper, iron and ruthenium, with supporting carbonyl ligands, were added post-synthesis to MCM-41 and MCM-48 (Chapter 4). Various reaction conditions were examined in attempts to ensure small particle formation. The optimum incorporation of nanoparticles containing iron and platinum was found to occur when a suspension of pre-made and purified nanoparticles was added post-synthesis to the M41S materials (Chapter 4). These materials resulted in porous silicas with well dispersed, small metal particles. The optimum conditions for the calcination of these new materials were determined, in an attempt to remove the ligands and stabilisers and retain the small metal particle size (Chapter 5). Testing for the Fischer-Tropsch process was conducted in a fixed bed reactor through which a flow of synthesis gas containing carbon monoxide and hydrogen could pass over the material (Chapter 5). Analysis by gas chromatography showed that the major product produced by all materials tested was methane, but other hydrocarbons were produced in small amounts, including hexane.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2007

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