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NANO2021-Nanoteknologi og nye materiale

Tracking the deactivation of shaped zeolite catalysts in time and space using X-ray diffraction tomography

Alternative title: Bruk av røntgenstrålebasert diffraksjonstomografi for å overvåke deaktiveringen av zeolittbaserte katalysatorer med oppløsning i tid og rom

Awarded: NOK 9.9 mill.

Heterogeneous catalysis is a key enabling technology for the transition from a fossil based society to a renewables based scenario. For example, CO2, the primary driver of climate change via the greenhouse effect, is also a sustainable carbon resource for the production of value-added chemicals. Zeolites, a type of aluminosilicates, are foreseen to play a pivotal role in the production fuels and chemicals from captured CO2 in a cyclic economy. About 1 million metric tons of zeolite catalyst is already consumed by the refinery and petrochemical industries every year. The overreaching objective of TomoCAT is to develop the tools that might pave the way for a more efficient utilization of these catalyst materials. This has two benefits. First, less material will be consumed every year, leading to obvious savings. Second, a more efficient utilization translates to smaller chemical reactors and less process downtime, leading to improved technology and further savings. Industrial catalysts are always or shaped into millimeter sized catalyst objects suitable for large scale industrial use. The key feature of TomoCAT is to achieve a description of how various chemical phenomena occur in these shaped objects, resolved both in time and space. Time in this context means the time of use in an industrial process, whereas space means spatial resolution across shaped catalyst objects. This requires utilization of national research infrastructures and very advance synchrotron methods for 3D imaging and tomography. The work during the first part of the project has been affected by COVID-19 related restrictions, especially when it comes to the possibility of traveling to carry out experiments at international large scale research facilities. Nevertheless, we have been able to execute three very successful experiments at the synchrotron in Grenoble. We have collected data that will shed new light on deactivation phenomena for the commercially important beta zeolite. This has been achieved through the development of very innovative approaches to analyze X-ray diffraction data. We have also measured operando computed X-ray tomography data for shaped catalysts with significantly better spatial resolution that earlier. Focus onwards will be on gather complementary data with other advanced techniques. We have also established a collaboration with a leading group to carry out multiscale simulation of deactivation processes.

Heterogeneous catalysis is a key enabling technology for the transition from a fossil based society to a renewables based scenario. For example, CO2, the primary driver of climate change via the greenhouse effect, is also a sustainable carbon resource for the production of value-added chemicals. Zeolites are foreseen to play a pivotal role in the production fuels and chemicals from captured CO2 in a cyclic economy. This can be achieved either by CO2 hydrogenation to methanol using transition metal catalysts followed by the conversion of methanol to hydrocarbons (MTH) using acidic zeolite catalysts. About 1 million metric tons of zeolite catalyst is already consumed by the refinery and petrochemical industries every year. The overreaching objective of the proposed project is to develop the tools that might pave the way for a more efficient utilization of these materials. This has two benefits. First, less material will be consumed every year, leading to obvious savings. Second, a more efficient utilization translates to smaller chemical reactors and less process downtime, leading to improved technology and further savings. When employed industrially, zeolites are formulated, or shaped, into millimeter sized catalyst objects suitable for large scale industrial use. The key feature of TomoCAT is to achieve a description of how these materials function resolved both in time and space. Time in this context means time on stream in an industrial process, whereas space means spatial resolution across shaped catalyst objects. This requires utilization of national infrastructures and synchrotron methods, such as at the European Synchrotron (ESRF) and other international facilities. Structure-property relationships provide a rationale for predictions leading to the development of improved industrial catalysts and more competitive process economies.

Funding scheme:

NANO2021-Nanoteknologi og nye materiale