Synthesis of vinyl acetate on palladium-based catalysts
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Vinyl acetate (VA) is an important monomer used in the production of paints, surface coatings and adhesives. Synthesis of VA is usually carried out over supported Pd alloy catalysts with a selectivity as high as 96% and described as C2H4 + CH3COOH + ½ O2 -> C2H3OOCCH3 + H2O Although the VA synthesis reaction has been industrially carried out for many years, the nature of the active sites and the reaction mechanism is still unclear. The goal of this study was to acquire a fundamental understanding of the VA reaction mechanism by carrying out detailed kinetic and spectroscopic investigations on single crystals and supported Pd catalysts, and to detail the role of alloying in optimizing the selectivity of this important industrial reaction. A combination of surface science techniques and kinetic measurements has been used to address the mechanism. Supported catalysts, 1 wt% Pd/SiO2 and 5 wt% Pd/SiO2, and 1 wt% Pd-0.5 wt% Au/SiO2, were prepared by an incipient wet-impregnation method and characterized using XRD and TEM. On Pd-only catalysts the reaction rates were found to be: Pd(100) < 5 wt% Pd/SiO2 (dpd = 4.2 nm) < 1 wt% Pd/SiO2 (dpd = 2.5 nm). Particle size-dependence of the reaction rates is evident for the Pd-only catalysts, which suggests a degree of structure sensitivity of the reaction. There is an increased availability of uncoordinated, edge atoms on small particles. With a Pd single crystal, fewer less-coordinated surface sites are present compared to a comparable area on a small Pd particle on a supported Pd catalyst. The formation of Pd carbide (PdCx) during the synthesis of VA was investigated over Pd/SiO2 catalysts with two different Pd particle sizes, as well as over a Pd-Au/SiO2 mixed-metal catalyst. XRD data indicate that smaller Pd particles show greater resistance to the formation of PdCx. The alloying of Au with Pd is apparently very effective in preventing PdCx formation in Pd-based catalysts for VA synthesis. Addition of Au to Pd/SiO2 catalysts significantly enhances the VA formation rate and selectivity. Infrared reflection absorption spectroscopy (IRAS) of CO on Pd/Au(100) and Pd/Au(111) confirms the presence of Pd as isolated monomers on a Au-rich surface. A pair of Pd monomers is the most favorable active site for the formation of VA. The spacing between the two active isolated Pd atoms is critical and is demonstrated by the relative rates of VA formation on Pd/Au model catalysts, i.e. Pd/Au(111) < Pd/Au(100). The role of Au is to isolate the surface Pd atoms and thus suppress the formation of by products, CO and CO2. A pair of Pd monomers required for VA synthesis is further confirmed by the results from model studies of Sn-Pd.
Kumar, Dheeraj (2006). Synthesis of vinyl acetate on palladium-based catalysts. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from