An Exploration of Geometric and Electronic Effects in Metal Nanoparticle Catalysts
thesisposted on 28.10.2014, 00:00 by David J. Childers
The goal of this thesis is to investigate the influence geometric and electronic effects on metal nanoparticle catalysis. There are three main methods which alter a catalyst’s properties: changing support material, changing nanoparticle size and alloying a second metal. This work will focus on the latter two methods using Pt-group metals and alloys. Platinum and palladium were chosen as the active metals due to a large amount of industry significance and prior literature to draw upon. Neopentane conversion and propane dehydrogenation were the two probe reactions used to evaluate these catalysts mainly due to their relative simplicity and ease of operation on a laboratory scale. The effect of particle size was studied with Pt and Pd monometallic catalysts using neopentane hydrogenolysis/isomerization as the probe reaction. Particle size studies have been done previously using this reaction so there is literature data to compare this study’s results. This data will also be used as comparison for the bimetallic studies conducted later so that particle size effects can be accounted for when attempting to determine the effect of alloying a second metal. Bimetallic catalysts have several different possible structures depending on a number of factors from the identity of the two metals to the synthesis procedure. Homogeneous, core-shell and intermetallic alloys are the three structures evaluated in this work. Determining the surface composition of a homogeneous alloy can be difficult especially if both metals adsorb CO. PtPd homogeneous alloys were used to evaluate the ability of EXAFS to give information about surface composition using CO adsorption. These catalysts were also tested using neopentane conversion to evaluate changes in catalytic performance. Core-shell catalysts can also exhibit unique properties although it is not clear whether the identity of the core metal is relevant or if surface changes are most important to changing catalytic behavior. PdAu catalysts were synthesized with varying Pd loadings to determine if the Au-rich core would continue to influence neopentane conversion performance with increasing Pd layers on the surface of the nanoparticle. Finally, intermetallic alloys have produced some very interesting literature results and can drastically alter catalyst surface structure. PdZn showed the potential to improve neopentane isomerization selectivity past that of Pt based on calculated electronic properties. Two PdZn catalysts with different loadings were synthesized to evaluate the electronic and geometric effects using both neopentane conversion and propane dehydrogenation.