Core-shell H-ZSM-5/silicalite-1 composites: Bronsted acidity and catalyst deactivation at the individual particle level

D. Mores, I. Stavitski, S.P. Verkleij, A. Lombard, A. Cabiac, L. Rouleau, J. Patarin, A. Simon-Masseron, B.M. Weckhuysen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A combination of in situ UV-Vis and confocal fluorescence micro-spectroscopy is applied to investigate the influence of an external silicalite-1 shell on the Bronsted acidity and coke formation process of individual H-ZSM-5 zeolite crystals. Three probe reactions were used: oligomerization of styrene, methanol-to-olefin (MTO) conversion and aromatization of light naphtha (LNA) derivatives. Oligomerization of styrene leads to the formation of optically active carbocationic oligomers. Different styrene substitutions indicate the conversion ability of the catalyst acid core, a preferred alignment of the oligomers within the straight zeolite channels and a Bronsted acidity gradient throughout the zeolite crystal. Both the MTO conversion and the LNA process lead to limited carbonaceous deposition within the external silicalite-1 layer. This outer shell furthermore prevents the growth of extended coke species at the zeolite external surface. During MTO, the formation of carbonaceous compounds initiates at the center of the H-ZSM-5 zeolite core and expands towards the zeolite exterior. This coke build-up starts with a 420 nm UV-Vis absorption band, assigned to methyl-substituted aromatic carbocations, and a second band around 550 nm, which is indicative of their growth towards larger conjugated systems. Aromatization of linear and branched C5 paraffins causes negligible darkening of the zeolite crystals though it forms fluorescent coke deposits and their precursors within the H-ZSM-5 catalyst. Olefin homologues on the contrary cause pronounced darkening of the zeolite composite. Methyl-branching of these reactants slows down the coke formation rate and produces carbonaceous species that are more restricted in their molecular size.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15985-15994
Number of pages10
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Methanol-to-hydrocarbons
  • Zeolite crystals
  • Intergrowth structure
  • External acidity
  • Si/al ratio
  • H-zsm-5
  • Conversion
  • Morphology
  • Transport
  • Coke


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