CNIE at the Scale4MAT Workshop
04 December 2020
The work of Aleksandra Glowska, joint PhD student with IFPEN, on "Multi-technique characterisation of hierarchically organised gamma-alumina catalyst supports" was presented by her IFPEN advisor, Elsa Jolimaître, at last week’s Scale4MAT Workshop. The online workshop focussed on new ways of synthesising catalysts and the challenges posed in making the transition from laboratory to industrial scale. It was a great opportunity to discuss new approaches to modelling unit operations required to facilitate the extrapolation of syntheses of breakthrough materials.
Following on from Elsa, Marc-Olivier Coppens presented an overview on "Nature-inspired, computationally assisted design of hierarchically structured zeolites". Introducing broad pores could decrease diffusion limitations in zeolite catalysis – but what is the optimal structure? The NIS methodology as a systematic, optimal design methodology was discussed, and applied to zeolite catalysis: borrowing lessons from nature to guide hierarchically structured zeolite synthesis, aided by multiscale modelling. Also the importance of surface barriers was discussed, as well as ways to control them, as a new design and synthesis challenge, with more scope for inspiration from nature.
Aleksandra's work involves gamma-alumina (γ-Al2O3), which is one of the most important industrially used catalyst supports for chemical and energy applications. It has a highly complex spatial organisation, which profoundly impacts the mass transfer kinetics. Therefore, better understanding of the link between its porous structure and diffusional properties - the subject of the talk - can guide the choice of adequate synthesis conditions to control the synthesis process towards obtaining catalyst supports with favourable textural properties for diffusion, for applications in heterogeneous catalysis. With our collaborators at IFPEN, Aleksandra has shown a methodology to characterise and quantify the spatial heterogeneity of gamma-alumina using advanced image processing techniques, but also the pore network organisation, which was found to greatly influence the severity of pore blocking phenomena directly impacting diffusional tortuosity.