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Catalyst support

many precatalysts are activated by exposure to a stream

of hydrogen at high temperatures. Similarly, catalysts become fouled after extended use, and in such cases they
are sometimes re-activated by oxidation-reduction cycles,
again at high temperatures. The Phillips catalyst, consisting of chromium oxide supported on silica, is activated
by a stream of hot air.[4]

2 Interactions of catalyst and support

Supports are often viewed as inert: catalysis occurs at
the catalytic islands and the support exists to provide
high surface areas. Various experiments indicate that this
model is oversimplied or even wrong.

In the Phillips catalyst, used for about half of the industrial production of polyethylene, the chromium catalyst is supported on

In chemistry, a catalyst support is the material, usually a solid with a high surface area, to which a catalyst
is axed.[1] The activity of heterogeneous catalysts and
nanomaterial-based catalysts occurs at the surface atoms.
Consequently, great eort is made to maximize the surface area of a catalyst by distributing it over the support. The support may be inert or participate in the catalytic reactions. Typical supports include various kinds
of carbon, alumina, and silica.[2]

2.1 Spillover
It is known for example that adsorbates, such as hydrogen
and oxygen, can interact with and even migrate from island to island across the support without re-entering the
gas phase. This process where adsorbates migrate to and
from the support is called spillover. It is envisaged, for
example, that hydrogen can spill onto oxidic support
perhaps as hydroxy groups.[5]

Applying catalysts to supports

2.2 Strong metal-support interaction

Two main methods are used to prepare supported catalysts. In the impregnation method, a suspension of the
solid support is treated with a solution of a precatalyst,
and the resulting material is then activated under conditions that will convert the precatalyst (often a metal salt)
to a more active state, perhaps the metal itself. In such
cases, the catalyst support is usually in the form of pellets. Alternatively, supported catalysts can be prepared
from homogeneous solution by co-precipitation. For example, an acidic solution of aluminium salts and precatalyst are treated with base to precipitate the mixed hydroxide, which is subsequently calcined.[3]


Strong metal-support interaction is another case highlighting the oversimplication that heterogeneous catalysts are merely supported on an inert substance. The
original evidence was provided by the nding that particles of platinum bind H2 with the stoichiometry PtH2 for
each surface atom regardless of whether the platinum is
supported or not. When, however, supported on titanium
dioxide, Pt no longer binds with H2 with the same stoichiometry. This dierence is attributed to the electronic
inuence of the titania on the platinum, otherwise called
strong metal-support interaction.[6]

Activation of precatalysts

3 Examples

Supports are usually thermally very stable and withstand

processes required to activate precatalysts. For example, Almost all major heterogeneous catalysts are supported.

Ceramic-core converter of the type found in many automotive

catalytic converters.

See also
uidized bed reactor


[1] http://goldbook.iupac.org/S06147.html
[2] Zhen Ma, Francisco Zaera Heterogeneous Catalysis by
Metals in Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry, 2006,
John Wiley. doi:10.1002/0470862106.ia084
[3] L. Keith Hudson, Chanakya Misra, Anthony J.
Perrotta, Karl Wefers, F. S. Williams Aluminum Oxide in Ullmanns Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry 2002, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim.
[4] Max P. McDaniel A Review of the Phillips Supported
Chromium Catalyst and Its Commercial Use for Ethylene
Polymerization Advances in Catalysis, 2010, Volume 53,
p. 123. doi:10.1016/S0360-0564(10)53003-7
[5] Conner, W. C.; Falconer, J. L., Spillover in Heterogeneous Catalysis, Chemical Reviews 1995, volume 95, pp.
759. doi:10.1021/cr00035a014
[6] S. J. Tauster Strong metal-support interactions Accounts
of Chemical Research, 1987, volume 20, pp 389394.


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