Palladium: Preparation and Catalytic Properties of Particles of Uniform Size

Science  28 Aug 1970:
Vol. 169, Issue 3948, pp. 873-879
DOI: 10.1126/science.169.3948.873


A method has been developed for the preparation of uniform palladium particles of diameter from 55 to 450 angstroms. Uniform particles of gold layered on palladium were also synthesized. Hydrothermal treatment of aluminum hydroxide sol was used to prepare rods of alumina with uniform cross section from 100 to 500 angstroms and of varying lengths. The palladium was adsorbed as individual particles on alumina rods, both present in aqueous suspension. Then the suspension was dried to give a catalyst containing metal particles of uniform size dispersed in open pores produced by the intermeshing of the alumina rods. This procedure guaranteed the absence of diffusion control in the rate of reactions observed experimentally. All stages of the preparation were monitored with the electron microscope. The kinetics of the ethylene-hydrogen reaction were examined by means of a pulse technique. The number of active sites determined by carbon monoxide titration of the surface was equal to the number of surface atoms as determined by the calculation of the quantities of compounds involved in the synthesis and electron microscope examination. Furthermore, the activity per site depended on the method of preparation, being four times smaller when sodium formate was used as a reducing agent instead of sodium citrate. This may be due to the fact that the shape of particles makes certain crystallographic planes more favorable. Decrease in the size of particles to 56 angstroms produced no effect on catalytic activity beyond that due to the increase in the number of surface atoms. The activity of commercial 5 percent palladium on alumina diluted 100-fold with alumina gave 80.4 percent conversion with propylene and 82.7 percent conversion with ethylene. Thus there was little difference in the behavior of the two olefins.

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