New synthetic methods to alter catalytic properties of supported K/MoS₂ catalysts for syngas conversion to higher alcohols

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Okatsu, Hiroko
Jones, Christopher W.
Agrawal, Pradeep K.
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The purpose of this study is to develop catalysts for conversion of synthesis gas (H₂ and CO) to higher alcohols, primarily ethanol and propanol. Crude oil is consumed at a rate of more than 20 million barrels a day in the United States, mainly for producing fuels and chemical feedstocks. However, the total amount of crude oil is limited, and alternative ways of producing alcohols as precursors for chemical feedstocks are desirable. In this study, using a known K/MoS₂/metal oxide catalyst as the starting point, two different approaches were explored to improve catalytic properties: 1) Co promotion on K/MoS₂/mixed metal oxide (MMO) catalysts, and 2) Preparation of K/MoS₂/metal oxide catalysts with molybdenum carbide as a precursor, instead of molybdenum oxide. With respect to Co promotion on K/MoS₂/MMO catalysts, the effect of varying the Co content in the K/Mo-Co/MMO catalysts prepared by a co-impregnation method did not produce significant changes in catalytic acitivities or selectivities. It was due to the premature precipitation of cobalt molybdate during synthesis. Cobalt molybdate precipitation can generally be prevented by using water as a solvent, but this approach is not appropriate for this study because of the use of hydrotalcite-derived mixed metal oxide as the support. Co loadings on K/Mo/MMO-Co catalysts did not change selectivities significantly, either. However, they changed catalytic activities, represented by gas hourly space velocity (GHSV) required to obtain 8% conversion while maintaining high selectivities for higher alcohols. As a result, C ₂₊ alcohol productivities reached 0.01g(alcohol)/g(catalyst)/hr with Co loadings higher than 8%. With respect to using Mo2C as the precursor of Mo species instead of MoO3, comparisons between catalysts with different precursors for Mo species and different pretreatments were investigated. In this study, both K/Mo catalysts supported on MgO and α-Al₂O₃ showed similar tendencies of catalytic activities and selectivities. The highest C₂₊ alcohol selectivities and productivities were obtained on presulfided MoO₃ catalysts on both supports. In comparison of K/Mo ₂C catalysts with different pretreatments, higher C₂₊ alcohol selectivities and lower MeOH selectivities were obtained on presulfided catalysts compared to non-pretreated catalysts.
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