Structure Sensitivity of Alkane Hydrogenolysis on Ir/MgAl₂O₄ Catalysts
In many catalytic systems, the catalytic performance of a metal supported catalyst would be affected by the size and shape of the metals, and this phenomena is called structure sensitivity. Generally, the structure sensitivity effect is considered being led by a combination of geometric property change and electronic property change of the surface metals. The particle size variation is an effective way to change the surface structure of the supported metal catalyst, leading to different fractions of the active sites exposing on the support that would take effect on catalyzing the reaction.
In this project, a series of Ir/MgAl₂O₄ catalysts with different particle sizes that less than 2nm were utilized for ethane and n-butane hydrogenolysis reactions to study the structure sensitivity effect as well as the potential reaction mechanism. The results show that the activity on the catalysts with nanoparticles and mostly single atoms is evidently higher than that with the subnanometer clusters in both reactions, but the selectivity to the target product of ethane is not quite dependent on the particle size in the n-butane hydrogenolysis. After the fundamental analysis, it is proposed that the reaction mechanism of alkanes hydrogenolysis on the single atom catalysts including single active sites is probably distinctive from that generally accepted on the large particles containing multiple active sites from literature. For n-butane hydrogenolysis, the parallel reaction pathway of central C-C bond cleavage is dominant at low temperature or in the low conversion range. As the temperature going up or the conversion increasing at a certain temperature, the parallel reaction pathway of terminal C-C bond cleavage becomes more and more competitive. The series reaction pathway of hydrogenolysis on propane intermediate would always take place, but the level would be drastically enhanced when the conversion keeps increasing in the very high range. The C-C bond cleavage on the ethane product would not easily happen unless the conversion is close to 100%.