Oxidative dehydrogenation of cyclohexane on cobalt oxide (Co 3O 4) nanoparticles: The effect of particle size on activity and selectivity

Eric C. Tyo, Chunrong Yin, Marcel Di Vece, Qiang Qian, Gihan Kwon, Sungsik Lee, Byeongdu Lee, Janae E. Debartolo, Sönke Seifert, Randall E. Winans, Rui Si, Brian Ricks, Simone Goergen, Matthew Rutter, Branko Zugic, Maria Flytzani-Stephanopoulos, Zhi Wei Wang, Richard E. Palmer, Matthew Neurock, Stefan Vajda

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The oxidative dehydrogenation of cyclohexane by cobalt oxide nanoparticles was studied via temperature programmed reaction combined with in situ grazing incidence X-ray absorption spectroscopy and grazing incidence small-angle X-ray scattering and theoretical calculations on model Co 3O 4 substrates. Both 6 and 12 nm Co 3O 4 nanoparticles were made through a surfactant-free preparation and dispersed on an Al 2O 3 surface formed by atomic layer deposition. Under reaction conditions the nanoparticles retained their oxidation state and did not sinter. They instead underwent an assembly/disassembly process and could reorganize within their assemblies. The selectivity of the catalyst was found to be size- and temperature-dependent, with larger particles preferentially producing cyclohexene at lower temperatures and smaller particles predominantly resulting in benzene at higher temperatures. The mechanistic features thought to control the oxidative dehydrogenation of cyclohexane and other light alkanes on cobalt oxide were established by carrying out density functional theory calculations on the activation of propane, a surrogate model alkane, over model Co 3O 4 surfaces. The initial activation of the alkane (propane) proceeds via hydrogen abstraction over surface oxygen sites. The subsequent activation of the resulting alkoxide intermediate occurs at a second surface oxygen site to form the alkene (propene) which then desorbs from the surface. Hydroxyl recombination results in the formation of water which desorbs from the surface. Oxygen is necessary to regenerate the surface oxygen sites, catalyze C-H activation steps, and minimize catalyst degradation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2409-2423
Number of pages15
JournalACS Catalysis
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2 2012


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