Temperature programmed reduction (TPR) is one of the techniques for obtaining information about phases or bulk species in heterogeneous catalysts. Information from TPR analysis can give insights about phase-support interaction and extent of reduction of the phases at different temperatures. TPR technique is a common tool in the characterisation of cobalt based Fischer-Tropsch (FT) catalysts. However, interpretation of TPR profiles of γ-alumina supported cobalt FT catalysts had been characterised with different views on the nature of phases and reduction processes involved. In this report, we use reduction behaviour of unsupported Co3O4 to gain insight for more explicit analysis of TPR profiles of γ-alumina supported Co3O4 catalysts. The transition Co3O4 → CoO → Co in γ-alumina supported catalysts prepared with wet impregnation with aqueous cobalt nitrate and calcined at temperatures ≤ 350°C gave reduction peaks at 300 to 350°C. Reduction peaks at 500 to 600°C were due to Co-Al mixed oxide phases; most likely Co2AlO4 and probably routes formation of the mixed oxide were also discussed. Consideration of tendency of dissolution of γ-alumina during the impregnation of metal salt is instructive toward achieving higher reducibility of Co3O4 in the design of cobalt based Fischer-Tropsch catalysts.
Key words: Temperature programmed reduction (TPR) profile, calcinations, Co3O4, γ-Al2O3, Fischer-Tropsch catalyst.
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