A comparative study of VPO catalysts in the oxidation of butane to maleic anhydride.
Co promoted and unpromoted vanadium-phosphorous-oxide (VPO) catalysts were synthesized via an organic route. The catalyst precursor was calcined and then conditioned in a reactor, forming the active vanadyl pyrophosphate, (VO)2P2O7, phase. Different promoter loaded catalysts were synthesized and their effect on the yield of maleic anhydride (MA) from n-butane oxidation was examined at different temperatures and gas hourly space velocities (GHSV). The catalysts were tested as a powder. The catalysts were examined in the oxidation of n-butane gas, over air as an oxidant, in a specially designed and constructed continuous flow, fixed-bed catalytic micro-reactor equipped with an on-line gas chromatography (GC) monitoring system. A thermal conductivity detector (TCD) was employed for carbon oxide monitoring and a flame ionization detector (FID) for all other products. The catalysts were characterised by X-ray diffraction (XRD) to determine the phases present in the precursor, calcined and used catalysts. The Brunauer-Emmet-Teller (BET) surface area was calculated for the different promoter loaded catalysts. Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectra, via the KBr pellet method, and attenuated total reflectance (ATR) spectra were recorded to determine the anions present in the bulk and surface of the catalyst respectively. Energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) and inductively couple plasma-atomic emission spectroscopic (ICP-AES) techniques were employed to determine the elemental composition on the surface and in the bulk of the catalyst respectively. Scanning electron microscopic (SEM) images of the catalysts during different stages of their investigation were recorded. The average vanadium oxidation state (AV) in the bulk of the catalyst was determined via a titrimetric method. The catalysts were optimized to a high yield and selectivity of MA. The operating temperature, GHSV and promoter loading on the catalyst were the parameters that were changed during the testing of the catalyst. Different stages of the catalyst's life were characterised via the techniques mentioned above. The catalysts were monitored over a 200-hour period on average, usually taking approximately 24 hours to equilibrate. One such Co promoted catalyst yielded 45 % MA at 275°C and GHSV of 2878 hr-1 on equilibration, with an n-butane conversion of 73 %, whilst all previously reported VPO catalysts produce far lower MA yields at this temperature.