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MAPO-18 Catalysts for the Methanol to Olefins Process: Influence of Catalyst Acidity in a High-Pressure Syngas (CO and H2) Environment

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journal contribution
posted on 11.01.2022, 13:05 by Jingxiu Xie, Daniel S. Firth, Tomás Cordero-Lanzac, Alessia Airi, Chiara Negri, Sigurd Øien-Ødegaard, Karl Petter Lillerud, Silvia Bordiga, Unni Olsbye
The transition from integrated petrochemical complexes toward decentralized chemical plants utilizing distributed feedstocks calls for simpler downstream unit operations. Less separation steps are attractive for future scenarios and provide an opportunity to design the next-generation catalysts, which function efficiently with effluent reactant mixtures. The methanol to olefins (MTO) reaction constitutes the second step in the conversion of CO2, CO, and H2 to light olefins. We present a series of isomorphically substituted zeotype catalysts with the AEI topology (MAPO-18s, M = Si, Mg, Co, or Zn) and demonstrate the superior performance of the M­(II)-substituted MAPO-18s in the conversion of MTO when tested at 350 °C and 20 bar with reactive feed mixtures consisting of CH3OH/CO/CO2/H2. Co-feeding high pressure H2 with methanol improved the catalyst activity over time, but simultaneously led to the hydrogenation of olefins (olefin/paraffin ratio < 0.5). Co-feeding H2/CO/CO2/N2 mixtures with methanol revealed an important, hitherto undisclosed effect of CO in hindering the hydrogenation of olefins over the Brønsted acid sites (BAS). This effect was confirmed by dedicated ethene hydrogenation studies in the absence and presence of CO co-feed. Assisted by spectroscopic investigations, we ascribe the favorable performance of M­(II)­APO-18 under co-feed conditions to the importance of the M­(II) heteroatom in altering the polarity of the M–O bond, leading to stronger BAS. Comparing SAPO-18 and MgAPO-18 with BAS concentrations ranging between 0.2 and 0.4 mmol/gcat, the strength of the acidic site and not the density was found to be the main activity descriptor. MgAPO-18 yielded the highest activity and stability upon syngas co-feeding with methanol, demonstrating its potential to be a next-generation MTO catalyst.