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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Alcohol synthesis using metal phosphides Imbault, Alexander Luis


Biofuels make up to 10wt% of gasoline sold in the United States of America and Canada, the largest portion of these biofuel additives is ethanol. Past research working with MoP/SiO₂ using syn gas (H₂:CO 1:1) as a feed have shown how an effective oxygenate catalyst can be promoted with K to become more selective towards ethanol. In this thesis, various metal phosphide catalysts including CoP, Co₂P, RuP and Fe₂P (all supported on SiO₂) are investigated using molecular modelling and activity tests with syn gas to find an effective oxygenate catalyst which can be understood and ultimately converted into an effective ethanol catalyst. Molecular modelling is performed on metal phosphide catalysts to determine the CO adsorption strengths of several metal phosphide catalysts. The correlation between the adsorption energies and oxygenate formation is then examined. Fe₂P is shown to be a catalyst of interest for its ability to create sizable amounts of methanol and other oxygenates, and it has a moderate CO adsorption strength. The second focus of this thesis is on the effects of passivation on two metal phosphide catalysts, MoP/SiO₂ and Ni₂P/SiO₂. This is investigated through measuring H₂ uptake during TPR and CO uptake during CO chemisorption after different passiviiation techniques. The results of these measurements finds that Ni₂P/SiO₂ and MoP/SiO₂ react very differently after being kept out of contact with air, passivated in a low flow of O₂ or being exposed to ambient air after reduction.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada