Design of Multi-functional and Multi-pore Solid Catalysts

Scanning-electron micrographs of the outer surface (a) and the interior structure (b) of a solid catalyst particle showing connected porosities at both the nanometer (mesopores) and the micrometer (micropores) length scales

Our group develops solid catalysts incorporating multiple catalytic functionalities to effect several reactions, concomitantly, in a sequential manner. The development of multifunctional catalysts contributes to process intensification by avoiding intermediate separation and isolation steps. It additionally opens the door towards unique catalytic performances by circumventing thermodynamic and/or kinetic limitations inherent to single catalytic steps. Besides the nature, intrinsic activity and relative proportion of the co-existing catalytic functions, a challenge remains to additionally tune the rate of mass transport between them. Our current interest is to understand the catalytic implications of the relative spatial location of different catalytic functionalities within a catalyst particle, as well as the nature of the porous network connecting them, particularly in solids with porosity extending over several length scales (as illustrated in the figure). Such knowledge is highly valuable to set new basis to optimize the overall reaction rate and selectivity.

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