Well-dispersed nickel nanoparticles on the external and internal surfaces of SBA-15 for hydrocracking of pyrolyzed α-cellulose†
Catalysts comprising nickel supported on SBA-15 were prepared by wet impregnation and co-impregnation methods. Wet impregnation was performed by directly dispersing an Ni(NO3)2·6H2O aqueous solution into SBA-15, whereas in co-impregnation, ethylene glycol (EG) was added to nickel nitrate aqueous solution prior to dispersion into SBA-15. After drying and calcination, NiO/SBA-15w and NiO/SBA-15c were produced. Later, after the reduction process, Ni/SBA-15w and Ni/SBA-15c were obtained. The prepared catalysts were evaluated for the hydrocracking of pyrolyzed α-cellulose. The TEM images revealed that the catalysts prepared by wet impregnation showed inhomogeneous distribution of nickel loading, whereas catalysts prepared by co-impregnation using EG exhibited homogeneous distribution and formed no nickel aggregates. During hydrocracking of pyrolyzed α-cellulose, Ni/SBA-15c with total acidity, nickel loading, particle size, and specific surface area of 7.27 m mol g−1, 5.20 wt%, 3.17 nm, and 310.0 m2 g−1, respectively, exhibited the best catalytic performance compared to other prepared catalysts with 67.35 wt% conversion of liquid product with maximum selectivity in producing 13.09 wt% of 3-methyl-pentane. Moreover, Ni/SBA-15w with total acidity, nickel loading, particle size, and specific surface area of 10.87 m mol g−1, 8.15 wt%, 7.01 nm, and 628.0 m2 g−1, respectively, produced 69.89 wt% liquid product without hydrocarbons. Study of selectivity towards the formation of liquid hydrocarbons was carried out via double step hydrocracking using Ni/SBA-15w, and 18.55 wt% of n-hexane was produced in the liquid product.