This work focuses on the effect of surface hydrophobicity of SiO2 gel supports on the catalytic performance of Co based catalysts in Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis. SiO2 supports of three different degrees of hydrophobicity were prepared with varying amount of dichlorodimethylsilane. Homogeneous deposition precipitation was used to load 10 wt% Co on each of the hydrophobic SiO2 supports as well as on the hydrophilic SiO2 support. The hydrophilic SiO2 supported cobalt catalyst was used as a reference for this study. In this work, various catalyst characterization techniques were used i.e. BET, XRD, Fourier-Transform Infra-red (FTIR) spectroscopy, MAS NMR, water contact angle, zeta potential, H2 chemisorption, temperature programmed reduction (TPR), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and temperature programmed surface reaction (TPSR). FT experiment showed that hydrophobic SiO2-supported Co catalysts showed better FT activity than the hydrophilic SiO2-supported Co catalyst because the hydrophobicized SiO2-support prevents the water produced during the FT reaction from adsorbing onto the cobalt active sites. Thus, there is higher number of cobalt active sites available on the hydrophobic SiO2-supported Co catalysts which increases CO adsorption and dissociation and subsequently leads to higher catalytic performance during FT synthesis.
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