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Title: Studies of carbon dioxide methanation and related phenomena in porous catalysts
Author: Hubble, Ross
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 3786
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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This Dissertation investigates the kinetics of CO2 methanation over nickel and cobalt catalysts. Methanation was studied for both Ni/γ-Al2O3 and Co/ZrO2 catalysts, which were synthesised using an incipient wetness impregnation technique and subsequently characterised using analyses based on gas adsorption, XRD, TPR and thermogravimetry. Separately a CO hydrogenation reaction, the Fischer-Tropsch process, was modelled numerically to examine the influence of mass transfer in practical, commercial pellets of catalyst. The kinetics of methanation was investigated for Ni/γ-Al2O3 over a wide range of reactant partial pressures using a gradientless, spinning-basket reactor operated in batch mode and in a laboratory-scale, continuous fixed-bed reactor. Langmuir-Hinshelwood kinetic models were developed to represent the observed kinetics in each reactor: these models were then compared. For the batch reactor, a rate expression based the dissociation of a chemisorbed CO intermediate being the rate-limiting step was found to be consistent with the experimental results. However, results from the fixed-bed suggested that the hydrogenation of an adsorbed C atom determined the rate of reaction. These differences in the kinetics on Ni/γ-Al2O3 between the fixed-bed and batch reactors suggest that a Langmuir approach using a single, rate-determining step may not be representative across all conversions. The rate over the Co/ZrO2 catalyst was characterised in the fixed-bed reactor over a range of reactant partial pressures at temperatures between 433 K and 503 K. The rate was observed to be dependent on hydrogen partial pressure and temperature, with the rate increasing with both. Previous research has reported a wide range of values of the apparent activation energy, with a study suggesting it was sensitive to pressure. Accordingly, the apparent activation energy was investigated for pressure sensitivity over a range of pressures between 5 and 15 barg: it was found to be constant. The values determined (~88-91±8 kJ/mol) were notably consistent with those reported for CO hydrogenation on cobalt. Kinetic schemes based on Langmuir-Hinshelwood and power law equations were evaluated, with the results best described by a reaction scheme based on the carbide pathway, with a rate-determining step of CH hydrogenation. A reaction-diffusion model of the Fischer-Tropsch process in a 2-D hollow cylinder was developed and analysed across a range of Thiele moduli and the extents of error in both effectiveness factor and selectivity were quantified relative to one-dimensional sphere and slab analogues. The errors between 2-D and 1-D analogues were found to be most significant between Thiele moduli of ~0.25 and ~3. Hollow cylinder effectiveness factors were bounded by those of sphere and slab above and below Thiele moduli of ~0.75 and ~1.15 respectively for the conditions examined, with the effectiveness factors exceeding those of both sphere and slab models between these moduli. A comparison of the hollow cylindrical pellets against spheres of equivalent volume demonstrated that hollow cylinders provided improved fixed-bed performance, with improved effectiveness factors and selectivities due to the lowered diffusion lengths of the hollow cylindrical geometry.
Supervisor: Dennis, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: methanation ; nickel ; catalysis ; Fischer-Tropsch ; carbon dioxide