Improved Alumina Catalyst
Alumina has been used as a catalyst in a wide variety of industrial processes for many years. Even modest improvements in alumina catalysts can have a significant impact on efficiencies of production of a very wide variety of chemical compounds. There is a continuing commercial need for new tailored alumina catalysts that can more efficiently produce existing chemical compounds, or that lend themselves to the production of new compounds.
Description of Technology
A mesostructured gamma-alumina is prepared by hydrolyzing an aluminum salt or alkoxide in the presence of a polyethylene oxide surfactant, the latter directing the formation of a mesostructure with pore walls comprised of the alumina. The final product results from a subsequent thermal dehydration process, resulting in a mesostructured alumina with high surface area and large interconnected pores of well-defined size. The result is high surface area (typically beyond 200-250 meters squared/g), and pore sizes typically well beyond 0.5 cc/g. Alumina catalysts tailored to production of a given chemical are determined from the beginning aluminum compound, surfactant, and other details of the preparation process for the alumina catalyst.
- Low cost: The compositions can be prepared from low-cost aluminum salts and non-toxic surfactants.
- Selectivity: The invention provides an improved ability to determine pore size and some characteristics of pore shape, including the ability to obtain improved uniformity in the selected pore size and connectivity between pores. The result is a significantly improved ability to control which chemical reactions will be catalyzed at the alumina surface, with accompanying reduction of unwanted byproducts due to the higher catalytic selectivity.
- Reactivity: The improved performance of the alumina catalysts means that catalytic production efficiencies could be higher than current levels by substantial factors for a wide variety of chemical compounds. The improved control on pore size and shape also enables reductions in unwanted byproducts.
- Use in existing plants: Since the invention provides improvements to existing technologies for producing alumina catalysts tailored to the production of specified chemical compounds, but with superior performance of the new alumina catalysts, the invention could typically be used in existing production facilities following changeout modifications.
This invention could be used for a wide variety of applications where alumina is already being used as a catalyst or catalyst substrate. Major examples include chemical production using petroleum as a feedstock, catalytic converters for cars, environmental cleanup equipment, adsorbants, and alumina catalysts for industrial applications.
US 7,090,824 B2 (issued 08/15/06)
Thomas Pinnavaia, Zhaorong Zhang, Randall Hicks, Thomas Pauly
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Michigan State University