Designing Supported Palladium-On-Gold Bimetallic Nano-Catalysts for Controlled Hydrogenation of Acetylene in Large Excess of Ethylene


Pavani Malla

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Date of Award

Summer 2014


Ethylene is used as a starting point for many chemical intermediates in the petrochemical industry. It is predominantly produced through steam cracking of higher hydrocarbons (ethane, propane, butane, naphtha, and gas oil). During the cracking process, a small amount of acetylene is produced as a side product. However, acetylene must be removed since it acts as a poison for ethylene polymerization catalysts at even ppm concentrations (>5 ppm). Thus, the selective hydrogenation of acetylene to ethylene is an important process for the purification of ethylene. Conventional, low weight loading Pd catalysts are used for this selective reaction in high concentration ethylene streams. Gold was initially considered to be catalytically inactive for a long time. This changed when gold was seen in the context of the nanometric scale, which has indeed shown it to have excellent catalytic activity as a homogeneous or a heterogeneous catalyst. Gold is proved to have high selectivity to ethylene but poor at conversion. Bimetallic Au and Pd catalysts have exhibited superior activity as compared to Pd particles in semi-hydrogenation. Hydrogenation of acetylene was tested using this bimetallic combination.The Pd-on-Au bimetallic catalyst structure provides a new synthesis approach in improving the catalytic properties of monometallic Pd materials. TiO2 as a support material and 0.05%Pd loading on 1%Au on titania support and used different treatment methods like washing plasma and reduction between the two metal loadings and was observed under 2:1 ratio. In my study there were two set of catalysts which were prepared by a modified incipient wetness impregnation technique. Out of all the reaction condition the catalyst which was reduced after impregnating gold and then impregnating palladium which was further treated in non-thermal hydrogen plasma and then pretreated in hydrogen till 250oC for 1 hour produced the best activity of 76% yield at 225oC. Stability tests were conducted on the catalysts which were followed by TGA analysis to analyze the coke formation on the catalyst in a period of time at a particular temperature. The catalysts were characterized by the hydrogen chemisorption and atomic absorption spectroscopy.


Ben W. L. Jang

Subject Categories

Chemistry | Physical Sciences and Mathematics