(716a) Metal Distribution During Impregnation and Drying of Ni/Alumina and Ni-Mo/Alumina Catalysts

Liu, X., Rutgers University
Khinast, J. G., Research Center Pharmaceutical Engineering GmbH
Glasser, B., Rutgers University

Supported catalysts are essential components in a variety of industrial processes, ranging from catalytic converters to production of new drugs. They are generally required because of their high surface area and high mechanical and thermal stabilities. The performance of a catalytic process is intimately related to the catalyst design - uniform, egg-yolk, egg-shell and egg-white metal profiles. Although catalyst preparation and catalytic processing have been investigated for many years, many aspects of catalyst manufacturing are still not fully understood and in industry the design of catalysts is usually based on trial and error, which is expensive and time-consuming, and does not offer assurances on the final results.

It is generally believed that the metal profile is controlled by the conditions that are applied during impregnation where the metal contacts the solid support for the first time. However, experiments have shown that drying may also significantly impact the metal distribution within the support. Therefore, to achieve a desired metal profile we need to understand both impregnation and drying. Controlling the impregnation and drying conditions can enhance catalyst performance, and minimize the production of useless batches that have to be disposed, or recycled.

In this work we have developed theoretical models to simulate the impregnation and drying processes of Ni/Alumina and Ni-Mo/Alumina systems. The initial input of the drying model comes from the results from the impregnation simulations. Therefore, we can combine impregnation and drying together to analyze their effects on the preparation of supported catalysts. Of particular interest is to compare simulation results and experimental measurements to determine the key parameters that control the impregnation and drying processing. Experimental work has also been carried out for impregnation and drying of Ni/Alumina and Ni-Mo/Alumina systems and the simulations are generally able to capture the behavior observed experimentally. The effects of impregnation time, initial metal concentration, drying temperature and solution surface tension on the metal distribution have been examined. By adjusting these parameters, uniform, egg-shell, and egg-white profiles can be obtained. To investigate the impact of support shape and support size on the metal distribution, three high surface area γ-alumina carriers have been examined, including rings with 7.9mm diameter, pellets with 3.2mm diameter and trilobes with 1.4mm diameter.

Our simulations and experiments have allowed us to better understand the fundamental mechanisms that occur during impregnation and drying, and to develop a strategy that can generate desired metal profiles. The models used in the present work can capture the essential physics of impregnation and drying while still maintaining a level of generality. Although the results presented are based on a particular metal/support system, they serve to provide physical insight into the fundamentals of the impregnation and drying processes.