(360d) Industrializing Atomic Layer Deposition for Upgraded Catalysts: Scale-up Perspectives | AIChE

(360d) Industrializing Atomic Layer Deposition for Upgraded Catalysts: Scale-up Perspectives


Dameron, A. A., Forge Nano, Inc.
Trevey, J. E., Forge Nano, Inc.
Elam, J. W., Argonne National Laboratory
Marshall, C. L., Argonne National Laboratory
Many important industrial scale chemical reactions rely on catalysts and require high temperatures to achieve commercially viable product yields. However, catalysts deactivate over time and lose surface area due to thermal degradation (sintering), fouling and/or poisoning. Decreased catalytic activity results in lower selectivity and higher yields of unwanted byproducts. There are many opportunities in the highly segmented catalyst/chemicals market to develop advanced catalyst solutions that can sustain selectivity toward the desired product(s) and catalyst activity for longer time on stream, provided they can be scaled and incorporated cost-effectively into the value chain.

Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) is one such solution that is being deployed to produce advanced catalysts through one or more of: a) depositing the actual active catalyst materials, such as metals, promoters, etc., onto high surface area supports; b) depositing a layer or layers of material onto a high surface area support prior to active catalyst material deposition (i.e. an undercoat); or c) depositing a layer or layers of material onto the finished, typically commercial, catalyst product (i.e. an overcoat). Substantial work has been carried out in the field of ALD-enabled catalysts dating back to the 1960’s, typically occurring in a university laboratory environment on grams of material. Though several interesting systems have been identified, the catalyst industry had long considered ALD to be slow, expensive and not industrially-viable. Arguably, this historical assessment was entirely valid, as until recently, equipment development had not progressed beyond batch reactors such as fluidized bed technologies.

For most of the past decade, Forge Nano researchers have been developing high throughput manufacturing systems that are designed to scale specific embodiments of ALD-enabled materials for a variety of applications. In this presentation, we will discuss the evolution of our semi-continuous ALD manufacturing systems, from ideation through to our in-house production unit capable of manufacturing metric tons of material per day. We will also discuss the fully-continuous ALD system invented by our collaborators at the Argonne National Laboratory.

We will highlight the current technical challenges we are addressing by applying our ALD overcoating technology to extruded platinum-based catalysts used for propane dehydrogenation (PDH) to propylene. We will review how improvements in both the efficiency and selectivity reduce the energy required for this process, as well as prospective opportunities where our scaled ALD processes provide are delivering a value proposition for upgraded catalyst manufacturing and beyond.