Influence of a fiber-network microstructure of paper-structured catalyst on methanol reforming behavior
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A novel microstructured catalyst that consists of Cu/ZnO catalyst powders and ceramic fibers was successfully prepared using pulp fibers as a tentative matrix by a papermaking technique. As-prepared material, called a paper-structured catalyst, possessed porous microstructure with layered ceramic fiber networks (average pore size ca. 20 μm, porosity ca. 50%). In the process of methanol autothermal reforming (ATR) to produce hydrogen, paper-structured catalysts demonstrated both high methanol conversion and low concentration of undesirable carbon monoxide as compared with catalyst powders and pellets. The catalytic performance of paper-structured catalysts depended on the use of pulp fibers, which were added in the paper-forming process and finally removed by thermal treatment before ATR performance tests. Confocal laser scanning microscopy and mercury intrusion analysis suggested that the tentative pulp fiber matrix played a significant role in regulating the fiber-network microstructure inside paper composites. Various metallic filters with different average pore sizes, used as supports for Cu/ZnO catalysts, were subjected to ATR performance tests for elucidating the pore effects. The tests indicated that the pore sizes of catalyst support had critical effects on the catalytic efficiency: the maximum hydrogen production was achieved by metallic filters with an average pore size of 20 μm. These results suggested that the paper-specific microstructures contributed to form a suitable catalytic reaction environment, possibly by promoting efficient diffusion of heat and reactants. The paper-structured catalyst with a regular pore microstructure is expected to be a promising catalytic material to provide both practical utility and high efficiency in the catalytic gas-reforming process.
The authors wish to thank Dr. T. Enomae for providing FiberOri8Single03 software. This research was supported by a Research Fellowship of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science for Young Scientists (H. Koga) and by an Industrial Technology Research Grant Program from the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) of Japan (T. Kitaoka).