Thermal annealing effects on hydrothermally synthesized unsupported MoS2 for enhanced deoxygenation of propylguaiacol and kraft lignin
Journal article, 2021
Catalytic hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) is an important hydrotreating process that is used to improve the quality of bio-oils to produce biomass-derived fuel components and chemicals. Molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) has been widely used as a catalyst in hydrodesulfurization (HDS) applications for several decades, which can be further improved for effective unsupported catalyst synthesis. Herein, we studied a universally applicable post-annealing treatment to a hydrothermally synthesized MoS2 catalyst towards developing efficient unsupported catalysts for deoxygenation. The effect of the annealing treatment on the catalyst was studied and evaluated for HDO of 4-propylguaiacol (PG) at 300 °C with 50 bar H2 pressure. The annealing of the as-synthesized catalyst under nitrogen flow at 400 °C for 2 h was found to enhance the HDO activity. This enhancement is largely induced by the changes in the microstructure of MoS2 after the annealing in terms of slab length, stacking degree, defect-rich sites and the MoS2 edge-to-corner site ratio. Besides, the effect of hydrothermal synthesis time and acid addition combined with the annealing treatment on the MoS2 catalytic activity was also studied for the same model reaction. The annealed MoS2 with a synthesis time of 12 h under an acidic environment was found to have improved crystallinity and exhibit the highest deoxygenation degree among all the studied catalysts. An acidic environment during the synthesis was found to be crucial in facilitating the growth of MoS2 micelles, resulting in smaller particles that affected the HDO activity. The annealed unsupported MoS2 with the best performance for PG hydrodeoxygenation was further evaluated for the hydrotreatment of kraft lignin and demonstrated a high deoxygenation ability. The results also indicate a catalyst with high activity for deoxygenation and hydrogenation reactions can suppress char formation and favor a high lignin bio-oil yield. This research uncovers the importance of a facile pretreatment on unsupported MoS2 for achieving highly active HDO catalysts.