On the origin of the cobalt particle size effects in Fischer-Tropsch catalysis

J Am Chem Soc. 2009 May 27;131(20):7197-203. doi: 10.1021/ja901006x.

Abstract

The effects of metal particle size in catalysis are of prime scientific and industrial importance and call for a better understanding. In this paper the origin of the cobalt particle size effects in Fischer-Tropsch (FT) catalysis was studied. Steady-State Isotopic Transient Kinetic Analysis (SSITKA) was applied to provide surface residence times and coverages of reaction intermediates as a function of Co particle size (2.6-16 nm). For carbon nanofiber supported cobalt catalysts at 210 degrees C and H(2)/CO = 10 v/v, it appeared that the surface residence times of reversibly bonded CH(x) and OH(x) intermediates increased, whereas that of CO decreased for small (<6 nm) Co particles. A higher coverage of irreversibly bonded CO was found for small Co particles that was ascribed to a larger fraction of low-coordinated surface sites. The coverages and residence times obtained from SSITKA were used to describe the surface-specific activity (TOF) quantitatively and the CH(4) selectivity qualitatively as a function of Co particle size for the FT reaction (220 degrees C, H(2)/CO = 2). The lower TOF of Co particles <6 nm is caused by both blocking of edge/corner sites and a lower intrinsic activity at the small terraces. The higher methane selectivity of small Co particles is mainly brought about by their higher hydrogen coverages.