Operando X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) and X-ray diffraction (XRD) were performed on a Co/TiO2 Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FTS) catalyst at 16 bar for (at least) 48 h time-on-stream in both a synchrotron facility and a laboratory-based X-ray diffractometer. Cobalt carbide formation was observed earlier during FTS with operando XAS than with XRD. This apparent discrepancy is due to the higher sensitivity of XAS to a short-range order. Interestingly, in both cases, the product formation does not noticeably change when cobalt carbide formation is detected. This suggests that cobalt carbide formation is not a major deactivation mechanism, as is often suggested for FTS. Moreover, no cobalt oxide formation was detected by XAS or XRD. In other words, one of the classical proposals invoked to explain Co/TiO2 catalyst deactivation could not be supported by our operando X-ray characterization data obtained at close to industrially relevant reaction conditions. Furthermore, a bimodal cobalt particle distribution was observed by high-angle annular dark-field scanning transmission electron microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray analysis, while product formation remained relatively stable. The bimodal distribution is most probably due to the mobility and migration of the cobalt nanoparticles during FTS conditions.
- Fischer-Tropsch synthesis
- X-ray absorption spectroscopy
- catalyst deactivation
- catalyst stability
- operando spectroscopy
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes