In situ imaging of catalytic etching on silver during methanol oxidation conditions by environmental scanning electron microscopy

Millar, Graeme J., Nelson, Megan, & Uwins, Philippa J.R. (1997) In situ imaging of catalytic etching on silver during methanol oxidation conditions by environmental scanning electron microscopy. Journal of Catalysis, 169(1), pp. 143-156.

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Polycrystalline silver is used to catalytically oxidise methanol to formaldehyde. This paper reports the results of extensive investigations involving the use of environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) to monitor structural changes in silver during simulated industrial reaction conditions. The interaction of oxygen, nitrogen, and water, either singly or in combination, with a silver catalyst at temperatures up to 973 K resulted in the appearance of a reconstructed silver surface. More spectacular was the effect an oxygen/methanol mixture had on the silver morphology. At a temperature of ca. 713 K pinholes were created in the vicinity of defects as a consequence of subsurface explosions. These holes gradually increased in size and large platelet features were created. Elevation of the catalyst temperature to 843 K facilitated the wholescale oxygen induced restructuring of the entire silver surface. Methanol reacted with subsurface oxygen to produce subsurface hydroxyl species which ultimately formed water in the subsurface layers of silver. The resultant hydrostatic pressure forced the silver surface to adopt a "hill and valley" conformation in order to minimise the surface free energy. Upon approaching typical industrial operating conditions widespread explosions occurred on the catalyst and it was also apparent that the silver surface was extremely mobile under the applied conditions. The interaction of methanol alone with silver resulted in the initial formation of pinholes primarily in the vicinity of defects, due to reaction with oxygen species incorporated in the catalyst during electrochemical synthesis. However, dramatic reduction in the hole concentration with time occurred as all the available oxygen became consumed. A remarkable correlation between formaldehyde production and hole concentration was found.

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ID Code: 62043
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: silver, catalyst, formaldehyde, in situ, ESEM
DOI: 10.1006/jcat.1997.1653
ISSN: 1090-2694
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > CHEMICAL SCIENCE (030000) > PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY (INCL. STRUCTURAL) (030600) > Catalysis and Mechanisms of Reactions (030601)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Chemistry, Physics & Mechanical Engineering
Current > Institutes > Institute for Future Environments
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 1997 Elsevier
Copyright Statement: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Catalysis. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Catalysis, [VOL 169, ISSUE 1, (1997)] DOI: 10.1006/jcat.1997.1653
Deposited On: 26 Aug 2013 00:49
Last Modified: 26 Aug 2013 00:49

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