The water assisted vinylene mechanism for cobalt Fischer-Tropsch synthesis assessed by multi-catalyst modelling of kinetics and deactivation
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The paper describes development of a mechanism and a consistent rate expression for Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis over cobalt-based catalysts. The developed mechanism relies on a two-step hydrogen assisted activation of CO. The carbon atom of CO is first hydrogenated by surface hydrogen to formyl; followed by the rate-limiting step whereby the oxygen atom is hydrogenated by adsorbed water. The produced CH* monomer is incorporated into the growing chain giving vinylene intermediate. The vinylene intermediate is either terminated to an olefin by adding hydrogen to the α-carbon atom or propagates by adding hydrogen to the β-carbon position. The resulting expression for CO consumption, the Fischer-Tropsch rate, can respond positively or negatively to the partial pressure of water, in agreement with experimental observations. A special feature is that the chain propagation probability does not depend on the partial pressure of hydrogen. The resulting kinetic model is tested on several cobalt catalysts supported on alumina; spanning from γ-alumina with average pore sizes ranging from 6.1 to 18.3 nm to α-alumina with a wide pore structure; and with cobalt particle sizes from 8 to 19 nm. Water was added sequentially to the syngas feed, causing enhanced deactivation, for testing the water response on activity and selectivity. A deactivation model comprising sintering and cobalt oxidation, and the FT-kinetics, describe the observed CO conversions with great precision for all catalysts. Selectivities are also well described, but with slight deviations at least partly due the effect of deactivation. Trends in some of the kinetic parameters are rationalized in terms of cobalt crystallite and pore sizes.