Date of Award

Winter 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Molecular Science and Nanotechnology

First Advisor

Upali Siriwardane

Second Advisor

Upali Siriwardang


The alumina and hybrid alumina-silica FT catalyst were prepared by one-step solgel/oil-drop methods using metal-nitrate-solutions (method-I), and nanoparticle-metaloxides (method-2). The nanoparticle-metal-oxides did not participate in solubility equilibria in contrast to metal nitrate in method-1 causing no metal ion seepage; therefore, method-2 yields higher XRF metal loading efficiency than method-1. The thermal analysis confirmed that the metal loading by method-1 and method-2 involved two different pathways. Method-1 involves solubility equilibria in the conversion of metal-nitrate to metal- hydroxide and finally to metal-oxide, while in method-2 nanoparticle-metal-oxide remained intact during sol-gel-oil-drop and calcination steps.

The alumina supported catalysts were dominated by γ-alumina PXRD peaks in alumina catalysts while amorphous alumino-silicate phase was the bulk of hybrid alumina-silica catalysts. The presence of cobalt oxides (CoO, Co3O4) and iron oxides (FeO, Fe2O3) phases are confirmed in the catalysts prepared by method-1 and method-2. The PXRD analysis indicated weak peak intensities in catalysts with 5 wt. % total metal loading. PXRD pattern confirmed alloy formation in the bimetallic catalysts (CoFe2O4) on alumina support phase γ-A12 O3.

The surface area and pore diameter of hybrid alumina-silica granules (301 – 372 m2/g and 7.3 nm) showed better values than the alumina granules (251 – 256 m2/g and 6.5 nm). The support pore diameter of both types of granules is within the mesoporous range (1 – 50 nm). The morphology of all the catalysts is preserved upon metal loading and heat treatments. The surface characteristics of the sol-gel-oil-drop method prepared catalysts indicate there was no significant pore blockage of the support below 10 wt % total metal loading.

The CO conversion of the FT catalysts was measured to screen catalytic active metals and determine the optimum temperatures of the FT reaction for the alumina catalysts. The alumina FT catalysts showed an optimum reaction temperature of 250 °C. Hydrocarbon production and CO conversion of alumina and hybrid alumina-silica FT catalysts were investigated. Among monometallic alumina catalysts, Co(5%) showed a higher CO conversion. The incorporation of Fe to Co increased CO conversion and hydrocarbon production. Increased Fe content in the bimetallic catalysts prepared by combined method-1&2, decreased CO conversion and hydrocarbon production, and increased CO 2 production. The bimetallic nano-Co(2.5%)nano-Fe(2.5%) prepared by method-2 alone showed higher CO conversion comparable to the Co(4%)nano-Fe(l %). Hybrid alumina-silica FT catalysts showed a higher CO conversion than the alumina FT catalysts due to better surface characteristics. The monometallic catalysts showed higher selectivity to C1-C4 hydrocarbon than bimetallic. The bimetallic alumina FT catalysts prepared by method-2 showed slightly higher C5+ selectivity compared to the higher Co catalysts prepared by combined method- I &2. The Ru promotion showed a significant effect on the CO conversion and 11 product distribution of the monometallic catalysts. There was no significant effect on the CO conversion on the (Co-Fe) bimetallic catalysts, but hydrocarbon production slightly increased when promoted by 0.5 wt.% Ru.