Supported copper oxide catalysts for octanal hydrogenation : the influence of water.
Copper oxide supported on alumina (CuO/Al2O3), silica (CuO/SiO2) and chromia (CuO/Cr2O3) have been synthesized and characterized. These catalysts were characterized using XRD, SEM, TEM, ICP, BET surface area and pore volume, TPR, TPD, TGA-DSC and IR. The hydrogenation of octanal using these catalysts was investigated; however, the primary focus of the project was the influence of water on the reaction and the catalysts. The initial study using CuO/Al2O3 showed that the optimum operating conditions for subsequent catalytic testing was 160 °C and a hydrogen to aldehyde ratio of two. Under these conditions, a conversion of 99 % and selectivity to octanol of 97 % was achieved. Further catalytic testing, using CuO/Al2O3 and CuO/Cr2O3, was carried out by introducing water-spiked feed into the reaction system after steady state was reached using fresh feed. Based on literature, it was initially expected that the presence of water would cause catalyst poisoning and subsequently catalyst deactivation. However, contrary to the expectation, the presence of water did not influence the activity of these two catalysts. Furthermore, the selectivity to octanol increased to 98.5 % when CuO/Al2O3 was used for the reaction, whilst a minor change in the selectivity to octanol (0.5 %) was obtained when CuO/Cr2O3 was used. The interaction of the water with the surface hydroxyls on alumina is most likely the reason for the increase in the selectivity to octanol when using CuO/Al2O3. In contrast to the other two catalysts, the reaction over CuO/SiO2 showed a steady decrease in both the conversion of octanal and the selectivity to octanol with time-onstream when using fresh feed. After 55 hours on stream, the conversion reached 22 %, (from an initial 95 %) whilst the selectivity to octanol reached 89 % (from an initial 98 %). This decline in the conversion and selectivity to octanol was possibly due in part, to the low isoelectric point of silica, with mechanical failure being the major contributing factor to the catalyst’s deactivation. The decrease in the BET surface area and the presence of smaller particles in the SEM image, confirmed that mechanical failure occurred. Since steady state was not reached and deactivation occurred, the reaction over CuO/SiO2 was also carried out using water-spiked feed. The conversion of octanal was seen to gradually decrease to 73 % after 55 hours on stream, whilst the selectivity to octanol remained unchanged at 98 % for the duration of the reaction. This showed the beneficial effect of the presence of water by slowing down the decline in catalytic activity and maintaining the selectivity to octanol. The improved selectivity obtained in the presence of water was attributed to its interaction with the silica surface hydroxyls. Since octanal conversion continued to decrease, it indicated that mechanical failure was the primary cause in the loss of catalytic activity. The used catalysts were characterized using XRD, SEM, EDS composition scanning, TEM, BET surface area and pore volume, TGA-DSC and IR. The catalysts used for the reaction with the fresh feed and the water-spiked feed were characterized and compared. Except for the deactivation of CuO/SiO2, the characterization of these catalysts showed that the presence of water did not negatively impact the make-up of the catalyst.