Mixed metal oxide - noble metal catalysts for total oxidation of volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide

Abstract: CO, volatile organic compounds, and polyaromatics areubiquitous air pollutants that give rise to deleterious healthand environmental effects. Such compounds are emitted, forinstance, by the combustion of wood, particularly fromsmall-scale heating appliances. Total catalytic oxidation isconsidered to be an effective approach in controlling theseemissions, however, some problems remain such as thenon-availability of catalysts with low-cost, high activity andstability in prevailing conditions. Hence, this thesis aims atthe development of oxidation catalysts and improvedunderstanding of their behaviour.The catalytic activity was evaluated for the oxidation of amixture of CO, naphthalene (or ethylene), and methane inpresence of carbon dioxide, water, oxygen and nitrogen. Variouscharacterisation techniques, including Temperature-ProgrammedReduction and Oxidation, BET-Surface Area Analysis, X-RayDiffraction, X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy, RamanSpectroscopy and Scanning and Transmission Electron Microscopywere used.In the first part of this thesis, catalysts based on metaloxides (MnOx, CuO) and/or a low amount of noble metals (Pt, Pd)supported on alumina washcoat were selected. It was shown thatPt and Pd possessed a superior catalytic activity to that ofCuO and MnOxfor the oxidation of CO, C10H8and C2H4, while for the oxidation of CH4, CuO was largely more active than noble metals,and MnOxas active as Pd and Pt. Some mixed metaloxide-noble metal catalysts showed decreased activity comparedto that of noble metals, however, a higher noble metal loadingor a successive impregnation with noble metals led to positivesynergetic effects for oxidation.Deactivation of the catalysts by thermal damage and sulphurpoisoning is addressed in the second part of the dissertation.An alumina washcoat was found to be well anchored to themetallic support after thermal treatment at 900°C due tothe growth of alumina whiskers. The sintering of the washcoatwas accelerated after high temperature treatments in thepresence of metal catalysts. In addition, alumina was found toreact with CuO, particularly in presence of noble metals at900°C, to form inactive CuAl2O4. However, MnOxcatalyst benefits from the more active Mn3O4phase at high temperature, which makes it asuitable active catalyst for the difficult oxidation of CH4. Pt sintering was delayed when mixed with CuO,thus giving more thermally resistant catalyst. The mixed metaloxide-noble metal catalysts showed higher activity afterpre-sulphation of the catalysts with 1000 ppm SO2in air at 600°C or during activitymeasurement in presence of 20 ppm SO2in the gas mixture, compared to single componentcatalysts. In some cases, the activities of the mixed catalystswere promoted by pre-sulphation due to the presence of sulphatespecies.Thermal stabilisation of the catalytic componentsand thealumina by promotion of La in the washcoat is discussed in thethird section. The stabilising effect of La at high temperatureis also compared to that of Ce added in the catalysts for otherpurposes. Due to its better dispersion, La contributed to thethermal stabilisation of the alumina washcoat and its activecomponents to a higher extent than Ce did. La provided a betterdispersion and a higher saturation of metal oxides in thealumina support, and at the same time stabilised the activityof the catalysts by preventing undesirable solid-phasereactions between metal oxide and alumina. In addition, La wasfound to enhance the dispersion and the oxygen mobility of CeO2. Cu-Ce interactions were found to promotesubstantially the CO oxidation due to an increase of thestability and reducibility of Cu species. Synergetic effectswere also found between Ce and La in the washcoat of CuO-Ptcatalyst, which facilitated the formation of reduced Pt and CeO2, thus enhancing significantly the catalyticactivity compared to that of a Pt only catalyst.The last part was an attempt to demonstrate the potential ofa catalyst equipped with a pre-heating device in a full-scalewood-fired boiler for minimising the high emissions during thestart-up phase. During the first ten minutes of the burningcycle a significant reduction of CO and hydrocarbons wereachieved.Keywords: wood combustion, catalysts, total oxidation,manganese, copper, platinum, palladium, lanthanum, cerium, CO,VOC, methane, deactivation, thermal stability, sulphurdioxide.