Unusually High Selectivity to C2+ Alcohols on Bimetallic CoFe Catalysts During CO Hydrogenation
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Silica-supported cobalt and iron catalysts (10% Co and 5% or 1% Fe) were prepared and tested in a flow reactor in the hydrogenation of CO, using H2/CO = 2:1 (molar) ratio in the feed, an overall pressure of 20 bar, and temperatures of 493, 513 and 533 K. Activity and product distribution were found to depend strongly on the composition of the catalysts. Thus, the Fe-free catalyst was selective toward C5+ formation (67% selectivity to C5+) and a low methanation rate, while the Co-free counterpart was less selective toward C5+, with a simultaneous increase in the formation of lighter fractions and alcohols. The behavior of the bimetallic CoFe catalysts was different. In the bimetallic CoFe10/5-c catalyst, selectivity to alcohols increased with respect to the monometallic Co10-c, and this was moderately high (15% to C3+ OH alcohols). In the bimetallic CoFe10/1-c sample, selectivity to alcohols was fairly high (29%), and ethanol reached the highest proportion (17%) among the alcohols. Surface and structural information concerning the activated catalysts, derived from X-ray diffraction, temperature-programmed reduction, Mössbauer, and photoelectron spectroscopy, revealed the appearance of a CoFe phase under the conditions employed during the catalyst activation. In the bimetallic cobalt–iron catalysts, this CoFe phase is suggested to be responsible for the rather high selectivity toward alcohol formation.
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