Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Engineering Science

First Advisor

Wiltowski, Tomasz


This dissertation research resulted in the development of a Fe based catalyst with Co as a co catalyst, and Ru and ZnO as promoters. The role of Cu and K as promoters and the effect of SiO2 as an alternate support to gamma- Al2O3 were also investigated. A series of Fe-based catalysts for Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) synthesis were prepared. The different promoters were incorporated into the catalyst by impregnation The catalysts were characterized by several methods. The catalytic performance of these materials for F-T synthesis were investigated in a newly designed fixed bed reactor system in the gas phase. It should be noted that the three phase slurry bubble reactors systems are commercially preferred. The reaction conditions were varied for benchmarking the Fe-Zn-K/ gamma- Al2O3 catalyst and for the bimetallic Fe-Co-Zn/ gamma- Al2O3 catalyst and to identify optimal process parameters for further catalyst designs. The H2:CO ratio used in this study was 2. The newly designed catalysts showed significantly high activity towards CO conversion (>70 %), along with low selectivity towards CO2 (5 -15 %) and methane (ND - 3 %). The data show that varying the process conditions, it is possible to achieve narrow distribution of the liquid products. The results employing Fe-Zn-K catalysts showed that an increase in pressure increased the mean carbon chain length. In contrast, an increase in temperature resulted in a decline in the average carbon chain length. Increasing the feed flow rate, or in other words decreasing the residence time of the reactants and the intermediates, resulted in a decrease in the average carbon number in the product hydrocarbons. The evaluation of the effect of process conditions on the performance of Fe-Co-Zn catalysts revealed that the effect of pressure on the carbon chain length was reversed. Increasing the pressure from 250 to 350 psig decreased the carbon chain length. The increase in temperature, however, resulted in a decrease in the carbon chain length as observed in the Fe-Zn-K catalysts. Fe catalysts groups containing different proportions of Co were prepared. It was determined that an Fe:Co ratio of 4:1 is sufficient to obtain high CO conversions with a high selectivity towards liquid hydrocarbons. The hydrocarbon distribution on the other hand remained almost unchanged due to a change in the Co content. The use of silica, as opposed to alumina as the catalyst support, enhanced the CO conversion and the selectivity of the process towards liquid hydrocarbons. The methane and CO2 selectivities on both the supports remained unchanged. However, a significant difference in the liquid hydrocarbon distribution was observed. Addition of K to the catalyst resulted in a change in the liquid hydrocarbon distribution in that a slight increase in the heavier hydrocarbons was observed. A series of Fe4Co1Zn0.04 based catalysts for Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) synthesis, in which the different amounts of Ru are incorporated by the impregnation were also studied. The results showed the incorporation of Ru suppressed the CH4 formation at the cost of increasing the CO2 selectivity.




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