Metal-exchanged zeolites for NH3-SCR applications - Activity and Deactivation studies

University dissertation from Chalmers University of Technology

Abstract: Emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOX) formed during the burning process in internal combustion engines is a major contributor to global air pollutions. One effective way to reduce NOX in lean environments, i.e. oxygen excess is selective catalytic reduction with ammonia (NH3-SCR). Metal-exchanged zeolites have proven to be active as SCR catalysts, where copper and iron are the most common metals. When using metal-exchanged zeolites in exhaust aftertreatment systems, several challenges arise. Resistance towards hydrothermal deactivation and chemisorption of impurities on the active sites of the catalyst are two of the more important challenges. Temperatures between 600-700oC can be seen during regeneration of the particulate filter, which usually is placed upstream close to the SCR catalyst in the exhaust aftertreatment system, and therefore hydrothermal stability of the metal-exchanged zeolite is crucial. Furthermore, high tolerance against catalyst poisons which originate from (bio-) fuels and lubricating oils is desired, where phosphorous and potassium are among the more important poisons. In this thesis thermal and chemical deactivation of iron-exchanged zeolite BEA as SCR catalyst is experimentally studied with special focus paid on the active iron species. Based on the experimental results a kinetic model is developed to predict the decreased activity of the catalyst after deactivation. Several characterization techniques are used to evaluate and correlate structural changes in the catalyst with the decreased activity. Catalysts are prepared and characterized using BET, XPS, XRD, TPD, in-situ FTIR and UV-Vis. The catalytic performance of the samples is measured using a flow-reactor system. It is concluded that the hydrothermal deactivation of Fe-BEA is a result of migration of isolated iron species forming iron cluster inside the zeolite pores and iron particles located on the external surface of the zeolite crystals. Further, it is shown that the growth of iron clusters and particles can be partially reversed by high temperature hydrogen treatment. The chemical deactivation due to phosphorous exposure is the result of formation of metaphosphates replacing hydroxyl groups on the active isolated iron species. Furthermore, the chemical deactivation of Fe-BEA by potassium is concluded to be due to exchange and loss of active isolated iron species in the zeolite forming smaller iron clusters inside the zeolite pores. A kinetic model where different iron species are included was developed based on the hydrothermal deactivation experiments and validated using phosphorous and potassium exposed samples. By fitting and fix the kinetic parameters towards a fresh sample, the decreased SCR activity can be predicted by just decreasing the number of active iron sites, representing loss of active iron species due to hydrothermal treatment and poisoning. The effect of gas atmosphere during solid-state ion-exchange of copper-zeolites was studied as well. It is concluded that copper becomes highly mobile due to formation of copper-ammine complexes in presence of NH3 after reduction of CuII to CuI by adding NO in the exposing gas during the solid-state ion-exchange. Copper-exchanged zeolites could be prepared by exposing physical mixtures of copper-oxides with zeolites to NO and NH3 at as low temperature as 250oC. Finally, the ammonia formation during the rich period of NOX storage and reduction (NSR) cycles was studied using kinetic modeling for the possibility of combining NSR and SCR catalysts in the exhaust aftertreatment system. It is concluded that the formation of ammonia is due to stored NOX and hydrogen from the gas in the first half of the catalyst. However, it was further concluded that the formation of ammonia is delayed due to formation of N2O from stored NOX and formed NH3.