ROLE: Physical Chemist
SUMMARY: The current standards in industry to decrease greenhouse effects are standard high-pressure copper-based catalysts that require extreme amounts of energy to hydrogenate CO2 into alternative fuels. This project is to explore a new, energy-efficient, low energy catalysts made from nano-size transition metals to alleviate CO2 emissions.
APPROACH: I wanted to first understand the differences between cobalt, manganese and hybrid catalysts on CO2 hydrogenation product selectivity. Past Somorjai research shows that a hybrid catalyst has unique rates and that methanol selectivity spikes, therefore the majority of my effort was attributed to optimizing MnOx + m-Co3O4 catalyst ratio.
There were multiple syntheses involved including MnO nanoparticles made from Mn-oleate, a precursor from a bi-phase liquid extraction of mixing MnCl2·4H2O and Na-oleate.
To synthesize m-Co3O4 we used KIT-6 (shown as blue silica compound on the left) was made from P-123, HCl, water, and n-butanol. Toluene was added with cobalt (II) nitrate hexahydrate to fill pores with cobalt.
I used a BET to calculate the surface area of each catalyst then analyzed products with a Gas Chromatography-TCD for CO, CO2, and methane detection as well as a GC-FID for the hydrocarbons.
Cobalt nano-catalyst selectivity for wanted hydrocarbons increases with temperature.
Optimal MnO loading within this range is near 1% for wanted hydrocarbons.
Heightened effectiveness of this hybrid catalyst brings to question the nature of the interface between MnO and m-Co3O4.