Fischer-Tropsch synthesis: Comparisons between Pt and Ag promoted Co/Al2O3 catalysts for reducibility, local atomic structure, catalytic activity, and oxidation-reduction (OR) cycles

Thani Jermwongratanachai, Gary Jacobs, Wenping Ma, Wilson D. Shafer, Muthu Kumaran Gnanamani, Pei Gao, Boonyarach Kitiyanan, Burtron H. Davis, Jennifer L.S. Klettlinger, Chia H. Yen, Donald C. Cronauer, A. Jeremy Kropf, Christopher L. Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


For economic reasons, Ag as a substitute for Pt promoter for FT Co/Al 2O3 catalysts was advocated, due to its satisfactory ability to facilitate cobalt oxide reduction, its good catalytic performance in improving the CO conversion and selectivity and, especially, its much lower price compared to that of Pt (i.e., $23.31/Troy oz Ag. vs $1486.0/Troy oz Pt (May 10, 2013)). A comparative study between Pt and Ag promoters at several equivalent atomic loadings was performed in this work. While either Pt or Ag significantly facilitates cobalt oxide reduction supplying additional Co metal active sites compared to the unpromoted Co/Al 2O3 catalysts, the total metal site density increased with increasing Pt loading, but become attenuated at high Ag loading. The EXAFS results indicate isolated Pt atoms interact with cobalt clusters to form Pt-Co bonds, without evidence of Pt-Pt bond formation, even at levels as high as 5 wt% Pt. In Ag promoted Co/Al2O3 catalyst, not only were Ag-Co bonds observed, but Ag-Ag bonds were present, even at levels as low as 0.276% Ag. The degree of Ag-Ag coordination increased as a function of Ag loading, while decreases in BET surface area and a shift to wider average pore size suggests some pore blocking by Ag at high loadings, which likely restricted access of reactants to internal cobalt sites. Therefore, although both promoters initially facilitate reduction of cobalt oxides, their local atomic structures are fundamentally different. Either Pt or Ag can significantly improve the CO conversion rate on a per gram catalyst basis of Co/Al2O3. Slightly adverse effects on selectivity (i.e., increased CH4 and CO2, at detriment to C5+) were found with Pt, especially at higher loading, while Ag provides some benefits (i.e., slightly decreases CH4 and CO2, and increases C5+) at all loadings tested in this work. Moreover, TPR and chemisorption/pulse reoxidation results show that Pt and Ag continue to be in proximity with Co following oxidation-reduction (OR) cycles to continue to facilitate reduction. Additional reaction tests are required to determine the impact of regeneration on performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-180
Number of pages16
JournalApplied Catalysis A: General
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
CAER work was supported by a NASA grant (Relating FTS catalyst properties to performance No. NNX11AI75A) and by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Argonne's research was supported in part by the U.S. DOE, Office of Fossil Energy, NETL. The use of the APS was supported by the U.S. DOE, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357. MRCAT operations are supported by the DOE and the MRCAT member institutions. We would like to thank Ms. Shelley Hopps for her assistance with XRD experiments. We are also grateful to the Fulbright-TRF scholarship program for financial support for Mr. Thani Jermwongratanachai.


  • Co/AlO
  • Cobalt (Co)
  • Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FTS)
  • Gas-to-liquids (GTL)
  • Oxidation-reduction (OR) cycles
  • Platinum (Pt)
  • Silver (Ag)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


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