(617ap) Glycerol Hydrogenolysis with Reduced Co2AlO4 Nanoparticles Produced By Flame Spray Pyrolysis

Authors: 
Jokiniemi, J., VTT Fine Particles
Lähde, A., University of Eastern Finland
Karhunen, T., University of Eastern Finland
Alvarez, D. M. G., 5Universitat Rovira i Virgili

Biodiesel is
currently one of the most important biofuels (Martino et al., 2008). However,
about 10-wt% of glycerol is formed as a by-product during the transesterification process of vegetable oil to biodiesel
(Zhou et al., 2008). Therefore the catalytic conversion of glycerol to added
value chemicals has been intensively studied.

         The
catalytic-alumina particles are typically prepared in a solution followed by
thermal treatments in air (Dumond et al., 2007).
However, the thermal treatments are likely to induce migration of cobalt into
alumina forming an aluminate spinel that cannot be reduced below 800 ¼C. Co3O4
and γ-Al2O3 also have isotype
crystal structures which enables the migration of ions from cobalt oxide into
the underlying support. The optimization of dispersion and degree of reduction
is therefore demanding.

         In
the current study Co2AlO4 nanoparticles were synthesized
using flame spray pyrolysis (FSP). In order to activate Co particles the
produced powder was reduced using a temperature programmed reduction (TPR) at
850 ¼C for 1h. The catalytic activity of the powder was then tested for
glycerol hydrogenolysis using a quartz
fixed bed down flow reactor at 573 K for 6h. The properties of the powder were
characterized before and after the reduction using electron microscopy and
X-ray diffraction. The surface characterization was carried out using X-ray
photoelectron spectroscopy.

         According
to BET analysis the total surface area of the as-synthesized Co2AlO4
powder was around 174 m2/g with a mean pore diameter of 10 nm.
Figure 1A show a TEM images of the produced particles.
The particles were spherical with the particle size between 50 nm and 200 nm.
The particle surface consists of Co, Al and O. The atomic ratio of Co/Al on the
surface is 0.27 which is lower than ratio of nominal
CoAl2O4 (0.5).

         A
TEM image of the reduced powder is shown in Figure 1B. The appearance of Co
nanoparticles with sizes between 3 and 8 nm can be observed, as well as the
formation of shell-like structure. The reduction also caused a significant
decrease in Co/Al atomic ratio down to 0.11. This indicates the reduction of
exposed Co atoms in the aluminate to metallic Co.

            Based
on the TPR profile the reduction of CoAl2O4 is a two stage process. At temperatures between 200 and 250 ¼C Co3O4
is first reduced to CoO which is then further reduced to metallic Co.    The second stage of the reduction
takes place at temperatures between 500 and 800 ¼C. At this temperature range
the oxidized cobalt species (Co2+ and Co3+) which are strongly interacting with the support are
reduced to metallic Co (Arnodly and Moulijin, 1985).

            The
reduced Co2AlO4 consisting of Co and Al2O3
was observed to promote dehydration and dehydrogenation of glycerol. The main
products were hydroxyacetone, lactic acid, and lactide. However, the glycerol conversion dropped from 80 %
to around 35 % after 4 h of reaction, indicating deactivation of the catalyst.
The deactivation is most likely due to the deposition of carbon species on the
surface of the catalyst powder during the dehydration reactions.

Figure 1. TEM images of the
Co2AlO4 particles (A) as-synthesized and (B) after the
reduction.

This work was
supported by the strategic funding of the University of Eastern Finland (Namber).

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(1985) J. Catal.
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(2007) J. Phys.
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D.S.
Martino et al. (2008) Energy Fuels 22, 207-217.

C.H. Zhou et al. (2008) Chem. Soc. Rev. 37, 527-549.