Towards the continuous production of Pt-based heterogeneous catalysts using microfluidic systems
The continuous production of Pt-based heterogeneous catalysts based on ultra-small (<2 nm) noble metal nanoparticles deposited on mesoporous ordered silica and their catalytic activity in VOC abatement are here reported. Microfluidic reactors can be used not only to enable the fast and controlled production of ultra-small Pt nanoparticles (NPs), but also alloyed NPs including PtPd, PtRu and PtRh can be formed in short residence times (between 60 s and 5 min). A novel continuous and homogeneous loading of these catalytic NPs on SBA-15 used as a mesoporous support is also here reported. This procedure eases the NP loading and minimizes washing post-treatments. A 12-fold decrease in the synthesis time was obtained when using this microfluidic reactor compared to the traditional batch production of Pt NPs. Microflow and batch type reactors yielded a Pt precursor conversion to generate Pt NPs with a 90% and 85% yield, respectively. Under the same conditions, the productivity of the microfluidic system (27 mg Pt NPs per h) was twice the one achieved in the conventional batch type reactor. The catalytic performance of the supported catalysts separately prepared by microfluidics and by conventional impregnation under the same conditions and with the same noble metal loading was also compared in the n-hexane abatement as a model of VOCs. Both catalysts were active in the VOC oxidation reaction but a 95% reduction in the catalyst synthesis time was obtained when using the catalysts produced in the microfluidic platform. For this reaction a long-term activity test was successfully carried out at 175 °C during 30 h on stream using the heterogeneous catalyst prepared by using the flow reactor.