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Title: Tuning the activity of supported metal catalysts
Author: MacIno, Margherita
ISNI:       0000 0004 7962 1909
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2019
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This research intends to explore strategies able to modify the activity of heterogeneous catalysts, in order to draw structure-activity relationships and gain an improved understanding of the catalytically active sites. Different approaches have been attempted, such as applying an activation treatment, modifying the metal loading, changing the support and adding organic ligands. These methods have been applied to supported noble metal nanoparticles of Pt, Pd and bimetallic AuPd, which have been previously found active for liquid-phase hydrogenation and oxidation reactions such as the reduction of nitro compounds and the oxidation of alcohols. Several characterisation methods were applied to study the structure and properties of these materials. First, a Pt/TiO2 catalyst for the selective hydrogenation of 3-nitrostyrene has been developed by optimising the effect of the variation of metal loading and heat treatment. In particular, a series of catalysts were prepared, tested and characterised, showing that combining the choice of metal loading (from 0.05 to 0.5%Pt) and activation treatment (reduction or calcination followed by reduction at 450 °C) leads to what shows to be the most active catalyst reported so far. The data acquired by several characterisation techniques such as STEM, XPS, XAS and CO adsorption led to the conclusion that particle size and distribution as well as the environment surrounding the active site affect the catalytic activity and a delicate balance between them needs to be achieved. Then, the role of the support on the catalytic activity of AuPd nanoparticles for the oxidation of glycerol was investigated. Different hydrothermal carbon materials, which derive from biomass and presenting different structural and elemental characteristics were applied as supports. Overall, the amount of oxygen in the structure as well as the curvature of the surface of the hydrothermal carbons showed to have an effect on the glycerol conversion either due to the variation in electron mobility that would favour adsorption of the reactants, or to the strain arising from the lattice mismatch at the metal-support interface. At last, N-heterocyclic carbene ligands were added to a 1% Pd/TiO2 catalyst. The presence of the ligand on the surface of the catalyst has been confirmed and found to be in both a neutral and protonated form. The results obtained by testing these catalysts for the hydrogenation of 3- nitrostyrene and the direct synthesis of hydrogen peroxide suggest that catalytic performance can be affected by either a geometric effect, where active sites are blocked, or by an electronic effect, due to the electronic interaction of the ligands and the Pd nanoparticles. Overall, to develop catalytic materials and improve industrial processes, the reactivity of nanoparticles needs to be maximised, by using strategies that tune their structural and electronic properties.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: QD Chemistry