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Synthesis of one-dimensional nanocomposites based on alumina nanofibres and their catalytic applications

Liu, Erming (2011) Synthesis of one-dimensional nanocomposites based on alumina nanofibres and their catalytic applications. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

Materials with one-dimensional (1D) nanostructure are important for catalysis. They are the preferred building blocks for catalytic nanoarchitecture, and can be used to fabricate designer catalysts. In this thesis, one such material, alumina nanofibre, was used as a precursor to prepare a range of nanocomposite catalysts. Utilising the specific properties of alumina nanofibres, a novel approach was developed to prepare macro-mesoporous nanocomposites, which consist of a stacked, fibrous nanocomposite with a core-shell structure. Two kinds of fibrous ZrO2/Al2O3 and TiO2/Al2O3 nanocomposites were successfully synthesised using boehmite nanofibers as a hard temperate and followed by a simple calcination. The alumina nanofibres provide the resultant nanocomposites with good thermal stability and mechanical stability. A series of one-dimensional (1D) zirconia/alumina nanocomposites were prepared by the deposition of zirconium species onto the 3D framework of boehmite nanofibres formed by dispersing boehmite nanofibres into a butanol solution, followed by calcination at 773 K. The materials were characterised by X-ray diffraction (XRD), Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Transmission electron microscope (TEM), N2 adsorption/desorption, Infrared Emission Spectroscopy (IES), and Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR). The results demonstrated that when the molar percentage, X, X=100*Zr/(Al+Zr), was > 30%, extremely long ZrO2/Al2O3 composite nanorods with evenly distributed ZrO2 nanocrystals formed on their surface. The stacking of such nanorods gave rise to a new kind of macroporous material without the use of any organic space filler\template or other specific drying techniques. The mechanism for the formation of these long ZrO2/Al2O3 composite nanorods is proposed in this work. A series of solid-superacid catalysts were synthesised from fibrous ZrO2/Al2O3 core and shell nanocomposites. In this series, the zirconium molar percentage was varied from 2 % to 50 %. The ZrO2/Al2O3 nanocomposites and their solid superacid counterparts were characterised by a variety of techniques including 27Al MAS-NMR, SEM, TEM, XPS, Nitrogen adsorption and Infrared Emission Spectroscopy. NMR results show that the interaction between zirconia species and alumina strongly correlates with pentacoordinated aluminium sites. This can also be detected by the change in binding energy of the 3d electrons of the zirconium. The acidity of the obtained superacids was tested by using them as catalysts for the benzolyation of toluene. It was found that a sample with a 50 % zirconium molar percentage possessed the highest surface acidity equalling that of pristine sulfated zirconia despite the reduced mass of zirconia. Preparation of hierarchically macro-mesoporous catalyst by loading nanocrystallites on the framework of alumina bundles can provide an alternative system to design advanced nanocomposite catalyst with enhanced performance. A series of macro-mesoporous TiO2/Al2O3 nanocomposites with different morphologies were synthesised. The materials were calcined at 723 K and were characterised by X-ray diffraction (XRD), Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Transmission electron microscope (TEM), N2 adsorption/desorption, Infrared Emission Spectroscopy (IES), and UV-visible spectroscopy (UV-visible). A modified approach was proposed for the synthesis of 1D (fibrous) nanocomposite with higher Ti/Al molar ratio (2:1) at lower temperature (<100oC), which makes it possible to synthesize such materials on industrial scale. The performances of a series of resultant TiO2/Al2O3 nanocomposites with different morphologies were evaluated as a photocatalyst for the phenol degradation under UV irradiation. The photocatalyst (Ti/Al =2) with fibrous morphology exhibits higher activity than that of the photocatalyst with microspherical morphology which indeed has the highest Ti to Al molar ratio (Ti/Al =3) in the series of as-synthesised hierarchical TiO2/Al2O3 nanocomposites. Furthermore, the photocatalytic performances, for the fibrous nanocomposites with Ti/Al=2, were optimized by calcination at elevated temperatures. The nanocomposite prepared by calcination at 750oC exhibits the highest catalytic activity, and its performance per TiO2 unit is very close to that of the gold standard, Degussa P 25. This work also emphasizes two advantages of the nanocomposites with fibrous morphology: (1) the resistance to sintering, and (2) good catalyst recovery.

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ID Code: 48323
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Martens, Wayde& Frost, Ray
Keywords: 1D nanostructure, alumina nanofibres, core-shell structure, hierarchical structure, marco-mesoporous material, nanocomposite, photocatalyst, solid superacid, titania or anatase, zirconia,
Divisions: Past > Schools > Chemistry
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 30 Jan 2012 11:43
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2012 11:43

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