Synthesis of clay-based catalysts for bioethanol conversion
For decades, clays have been applicable as commercial catalysts mostly for cracking in petroleum industries. Clays are also used for development of useful catalysts for various other industrial applications. Hence, this work was aimed to synthesize clay-based catalysts from clay minerals (Kaolin, bentonite and talc) that will be active for the conversion of bioethanol to fuel hydrocarbons. Catalyst characterisation techniques employed on the samples produced in this work include the Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and the X-Ray Diffraction pattern (XRD). All catalytic reactions were carried out in a fixed bed reactor (at fixed reaction condition of 6 hour and 350 ⁰C) and corresponding reaction products (liquid and gaseous) were analysed through a Gas Chromatograph- Flame Ionisation Detector (GC-FID) and Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GC/MS). The activity of clays in their non-modified state was studied and they were all found active for bioethanol conversion to hydrocarbons. Bentonite was the most active catalyst with bioethanol of 84.95 % and this through subsequent beneficiation and acid-modification approach, led to increased bioethanol conversion of 87.3 %. EDS/SEM characterisation of the catalyst in line to the above modification and increased catalyst activity, revealed that the structural morphology of bentonite and the concentration of basic structural elements (in terms of Si/Al ratio) was increased.