Publication (UFCHJH): Feasibility of application of iron zeolites for high-temperature decomposition of N2O under real conditions of the technology for nitric acid production

The long-term stabilities of a group of iron zeolites with MFI, *BEA, and FER structures and similar Fe/Al ratios were evaluated to assess their performance as catalysts for N2O decomposition. Conditions relevant for the application of the catalyst at the secondary level for N2O elimination, i.e., directly after the NH3 oxidation step of the process of nitric acid production, were investigated. These conditions included reaction temperatures of up to 900 °C and the presence of high concentrations of water vapour, oxygen, and NO. The focus of the study was the comparison of the MFI and *BEA zeolites with the FER-based zeolite, a catalyst established as relatively stable under such conditions. The structural analysis of the individual zeolite frameworks and iron species involved a combination of several methods, and provided insight into the framework modification as well as identification and semiquantitative determination of the individual iron species. In the zeolite catalysts, these iron species were in the form of either isolated Fe(II) and Fe(III)-oxo ions, polynuclear Fe(III)-oxo complexes, or small Fe oxide particles. None of the zeolite structures displayed a high extent of structural collapse of the framework; thus, structural collapse does not explain the observed decrease in activity. An investigation of the kinetics of the N2O decomposition, both before and after ageing under relevant reaction conditions, proved the dominant role of isolated Fe(II) ions that were accessible to the reacting gas-phase molecules. The kinetic study also identified the differences in the ability of the three zeolites to stabilize the active sites in individual framework types during long-term exposure to challenging reaction conditions. It has been shown that, while the isolated Fe(II) ions were present in adequate concentration for N2O decomposition activity at the relevant temperature region in all three zeolite-based catalysts, the MFI and *BEA zeolites were not able to effectively stabilize the active iron structure during ageing for over 12 days. In contrast, the FER framework survived a test for over 24 days. The iron species formed in MFI and *BEA zeolites during ageing were mostly large FeOx species and displayed very low activity that approached the activity of FeOx clusters supported on SiO2.

Tabor E., Sadovska G., Bernauer M., Sazama P., Novakova J., Fila V., Kmjec T., Kohout J., Zaveta K., Sobalik Z.: „Feasibility of application of iron zeolites for high-temperature decomposition of N2O under real conditions of the technology for nitric acid production”, Applied Catalysis B-Environmental 2017, DOI: 10.1016/j.apcatb.2017.11.014. IF 9,446. 

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