(606a) Structural Features of Fe-Promoted Rh/Titania Catalyst for Direct Synthesis of Ethanol From Syngas as Elucidated by XANES and EXAFS

Gogate, M. R., University of Virginia
Davis, R. J., University of Virginia

In a recent contribution from our
group[1], the influence of support and promoter metal on the
activity and selectivity of Rh-based catalysts for the direct synthesis of
ethanol from syngas was explored.  The reactions were performed in a fixed-bed
reactor system typically operating at 543 K, 20 atm, with a WHSV of 133 mL
(STP) syngas gcat-1 min-1 with a H2/CO ratio
of 1:1.  As a result of screening studies of differently-supported and
differently-promoted catalysts, a 2%Rh-2.5%Fe/TiO2 prepared by
incipient wetness impregnation was found to be optimal in terms of activity (CO
conversion), selectivity (to ethanol), and turnover frequency.  In our current
work, X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) and extended X-ray
absorption fine structure (EXAFS) have been used to elucidate the structural
features of this 2%Rh-2.5%Fe/TiO2 catalyst for the direct conversion
of syngas to ethanol. 

The results from Rh K-edge and Fe
K-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy on a fresh catalyst exposed to air
indicate that both Rh and Fe are present as highly dispersed oxides on the
titania, both residing in a +3 formal oxidation state.  For the catalyst
reduced in H2 at 573 K, the Rh K-edge EXAFS revealed Rh-Rh
interactions (N = 6.1, RRh-Rh = 2.67 Å) and a second feature from
either Rh-Ti or Rh-O coordination.  Based on this coordination number, the
metal particles contained on an average about 20 atoms, which is consistent
with a particle size of about 1 nm.  A shift in the Rh K-edge XANES spectra (plotted
as derivative of normalized μ(E) vs. edge shift E-E0) by -2.1
eV indicated the reduced Rh particles were electron-rich compared to the bulk
Rh metal.  Although Rh was reduced completely to the metal by H2,
the iron oxide promoter reduced primarily from Fe(III) to Fe(II) oxide.  The results
from X-ray absorption spectroscopy at both the Fe and Rh K-edges were unchanged
by exposure of the reduced catalyst to syngas (H2+CO) at 543 K.  A
structural model for this ethanol synthesis catalyst, including the promotional
roles of Fe and titania, will be discussed.

1.  M.A. Haider, M.R. Gogate, and
R.J. Davis, J. Catal. 261 (2009) 9.