Research over several decades by several institutions has shown that alkali-promoted metal sulfide catalysts are capable of producing mixed alcohols from syngas with high selectivity and yield. Unfortunately, process models suggest that syngas to mixed alcohol processes, and especially thermochemical biomass to mixed alcohol processes, require improvements to sulfide catalyst activity and/or selectivity for acceptable economics. These improvements, if incremental, cannot result in increased process complexity, capital expenditure, or catalyst costs. It is well accepted among catalyst researchers that thermal processing techniques like calcining and reduction can have profound effects on the properties and performance of finished catalysts, and that small variations in thermal processing do not usually affect the overall cost of the catalyst. Metal sulfide catalysts are no exception but surprisingly, little attention has been given to the effects of thermal treatment on bulk metal sulfide mixed alcohol catalysts. This presentation will discuss how parameters like temperature, dwell time, metal ratios, and purge gas affect the performance and physical properties of K-Co/Mo catalysts.
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