Atomic Layer Deposition for Enhanced Reactivity and Stability of Biomass Conversion Catalysts

W. Wilson McNeary, Gabriella Lahti, Kinga Unocick, Sean Tacey, Carrie Farberow, Michael Griffin, Kurt Van Allsburg, Chris Gump, Arrelaine Dameron, Karen Buechler, Mike Watson, Derek Vardon

Research output: NRELPoster


Heterogeneous catalysts are an essential tool in the transition towards a sustainable, bio-based economy for fuels and chemicals. However, the harsh conditions (e.g., high temperatures, acidity, oxidizing/reducing environments) of many key biomass conversion processes give rise to nanoparticle sintering, support collapse, and metal leaching in conventional PGM catalysts. Active site poisoning due to the relatively high sulfur content of most biomass feedstocks further compounds these durability problems. Next-generation catalysts must be developed to address these stability challenges. In this work, we used a scalable atomic layer deposition (ALD) process to modify conventional Pd-based hydrogenation catalysts to generate significant performance improvements. TiO2 ALD coatings were found to increase the activity of Pd/Al2O3 catalysts towards naphthalene hydrogenation; additionally, these coatings improved the catalyst's resistance to sulfur poisoning and thermal stability under oxidative calcination. Additional work in which Al2O3 ALD coatings were applied to Pd/TiO2 catalysts for muconic acid hydrogenation found similar stability benefits, including improved resistance to Pd leaching in the acidic environment. ALD technology holds great potential in the development of next-generation catalysts for biofuels and bioproducts and this work constitutes an important examination of applying ALD coatings to supported Pd hydrogenation catalysts.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NamePresented at the 2020 [PALD] Summit, 21 May 2020, Louisville, Colorado

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PO-5100-76785


  • ALD
  • biofuels
  • biomass
  • bioproducts
  • catalyst
  • muconic acid


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