Synthesis, Characterization, and Catalytic Applications of Transition Metal Oxide/Carbonate Nanomaterials

Date of Completion

January 2011


Chemistry, Inorganic|Nanoscience|Engineering, Materials Science




This thesis contains two parts: 1) Studies of novel synthesis methods and characterization of advanced functional manganese oxide octahedral molecular sieves (OMS) and their applications in Li/Air batteries, solvent free toluene oxidations, and ethane oxydehydrogenation (ODH) in the presence of CO2, recycling the green house gas. 2) Development of unique Ln2O2CO3 (Ln = rare earth) layered materials and ZnO/La2O2CO3 composites as clean energy biofuel catalysts. These parts are separated into five different focused topics included in this thesis. ^ The first topic presents studies of catalytic activities of a single step synthesized γ-MnO2 octahedral molecular sieve nano fiber in solvent free atmospheric oxidation of toluene with molecular oxygen. Solvent free atmospheric oxidation of toluene is a notoriously difficult liquid phase oxidation process due to the challenge of oxidizing sp³ hybridized carbon in inactive hydrocarbons. The synthesized γ-MnO2 showed excellent catalytic activity and good selectivity under the mild atmospheric reflux system. Under optimized conditions, a 47.8% conversion of toluene, along with 57% selectivity of benzoic acid and 15% of benzaldehyde were obtained. The effects of reaction time, amount of catalyst and initiator, and the reusability of the catalyst were investigated. ^ The second topic involves developing titanium containing γ-MnO 2 (TM) hollow spheres as electrocatalysts in Li/Air Batteries. Li/air batteries have recently attracted interest because they have the largest theoretical specific energy (11,972 Wh.kg−1) among all practical electrochemical couples. In this study, unique hollow aspheric materials were prepared for the first time using a one-step synthesis method and fully characterized by various techniques. These prepared materials were found to have excellent electrocatalytic activation as cathode materials in lithium-air batteries with a very high specific capacity (up to 2.3 A.h/g of carbon). ^ The third topic in this thesis presents studies of ethane oxydehydrogenation (ODH) in the presence of CO2 over the octahedral molecular sieve (OMS-2) catalyst. Conversion of CO2 into organic compounds has been studied intensively. Ethane catalytic oxydehydrogenation in the presence of CO2 offers an attractive route for converting CO2. In this study, using OMS-2 as the catalyst in C2H6 dehydrogenation in the presence of CO2 is an example where extreme conditions are used to drive high conversions of ethane (> 70%) and CO2 (up to 56%) with high selectivity towards ethylene (87%) with a short contact time (0.6 s). This inexpensive material also showed high stability during the process, and the presence of CO2 removed coke depositions throughout the catalyst. The results obtained from this study open up new possibilities for olefin dehydrogenations in the presence of CO2, a perfect feedstock for any process involving ethylene carbonylation with the recycling of the greenhouse gas.^ The fourth part of this thesis presents a ZnO/La2O2CO 3 composite prepared by a new and easy method and discusses the use of these materials as heterogeneous catalysts for ultra-fast microwave biodiesel production at low temperatures. The search for solid state materials with high catalytic activities is one of the key steps toward reducing the cost of producing biodiesel. We present a high biodiesel yield (> 95%) in less than 5 minutes under mild reaction conditions (< 100°C) on a ZnO/La 2O2CO3 heterogeneous catalyst, showing no Zn and La leaching into the reaction medium. The catalyst has a higher reaction rate than the homogeneous KOH catalyst with the assistance of microwave irradiation. All of these results promote the industrial application of the synthesized ZnO/La2O2CO3 as a potential heterogeneous catalyst for fast biodiesel production, avoiding many of the issues found in both commercial and independently published catalysts.^ Following the fourth part of this thesis, the fifth part presents the synthesis and characterization of a series of rare earth Ln2O 2CO3 (Ln = La, Eu, Nd, and Sm) layered materials as novel basic materials for the biodiesel production. Reports on rare earth oxycarbonate Ln2O2CO3 (Ln = rare earths) layered materials as heterogeneous basic catalysts having novel low temperature catalytic activities are rare. In this thesis I successfully synthesized active rare earth (Ln = La, Nd, Eu, and Sm) metal oxycarbonate based layered materials to catalyze the transesterification process under mild conditions (< 85°C), obtaining a high fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) yield (> 95%) in a short reaction time (< 20 minutes). The results of low temperature activities and short reaction times with minimum energy consumption show them to have solid potential as alkali metal hydroxide/alkoxide alternatives for industrial applications. ^