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Preparation of Cobalt Nanocrystals Supported on Metal Oxides To Study Particle Growth in Fischer–Tropsch Catalysts

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journal contribution
posted on 05.10.2018, 00:00 by Tom W. van Deelen, Jelle J. Nijhuis, Nynke A. Krans, Jovana Zečević, Krijn P. de Jong
Colloidal synthesis of nanocrystals (NC) followed by their attachment to a support and activation is a promising route to prepare model catalysts for research on structure-performance relationships. Here, we investigated the suitability of this method to prepare well-defined Co/TiO2 and Co/SiO2 catalysts for the Fischer–Tropsch (FT) synthesis with high control over the cobalt particle size. To this end, Co-NC of 3, 6, 9, and 12 nm with narrow size distributions were synthesized and attached uniformly on either TiO2 or SiO2 supports with comparable morphology and Co loadings of 2–10 wt %. After activation in H2, the FT activity of the TiO2-supported 6 and 12 nm Co-NC was similar to that of a Co/TiO2 catalyst prepared by impregnation, showing that full activation was achieved and relevant catalysts had been obtained; however, 3 nm Co-NC on TiO2 were less active than anticipated. Analysis after FT revealed that all Co-NC on TiO2 as well as 3 nm Co-NC on SiO2 had grown to ∼13 nm, while the sizes of the 6 and 9 nm Co-NC on SiO2 had remained stable. It was found that the 3 nm Co-NC on TiO2 already grew to 10 nm during activation in H2. Furthermore, substantial amounts of Co (up to 60%) migrated from the Co-NC to the support during activation on TiO2 against only 15% on SiO2. We showed that the stronger interaction between cobalt and TiO2 leads to enhanced catalyst restructuring as compared to SiO2. These findings demonstrate the potential of the NC-based method to produce relevant model catalysts to investigate phenomena that could not be studied using conventionally synthesized catalysts.