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Resolving Interparticle Heterogeneities in Composition and Hydrogenation Performance between Individual Supported Silver on Silica Catalysts

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journal contribution
posted on 2015-12-17, 10:33 authored by Eva Plessers, Ivo Stassen, Sreeprasanth Pulinthanathu Sree, Kris P. F. Janssen, Haifeng Yuan, Johan Martens, Johan Hofkens, Dirk De Vos, Maarten B. J. Roeffaers
Supported metal nanoparticle catalysts are commonly obtained through deposition of metal precursors onto the support using incipient wetness impregnation. Typically, empirical relations between metal nanoparticle structure and catalytic performance are inferred from ensemble averaged data in combination with high-resolution electron microscopy. This approach clearly underestimates the importance of heterogeneities present in a supported metal catalyst batch. Here we show for the first time how incipient wetness impregnation leads to 10-fold variations in silver loading between individual submillimeter-sized silica support granules. This heterogeneity has a profound impact on the catalytic performance, with 100-fold variations in hydrogenation performance at the same level. In a straightforward fashion, optical microscopy interlinks single support particle level catalytic measurements to structural and compositional information. These detailed correlations reveal the optimal silver loading. A thorough consideration of catalyst heterogeneity and the impact thereof on the catalytic performance is indispensable in the development of catalysts.