Staining of Fluid-Catalytic-Cracking Catalysts: Localising Bronsted Acidity within a Single Catalyst Particle

Inge L. C. Buurmans, Javier Ruiz-Martinez, Sanne L. van Leeuwen, David van der Beek, Jaap A. Bergwerff, William V. Knowles, Eelco T. C. Vogt, Bert M. Weckhuysen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A time-resolved in situ micro-spectroscopic approach has been used to investigate the Br phi nsted acidic properties of fluid-catalytic-cracking (FCC) catalysts at the single particle level by applying the acid-catalysed styrene oligomerisation probe reaction. The reactivity of individual FCC components (zeolite, clay, alumina and silica) was monitored by UV/Vis micro-spectroscopy and showed that only clay and zeolites (Y and ZSM-5) contain Br phi nsted acid sites that are strong enough to catalyse the conversion of 4-fluorostyrene into carbocationic species. By applying the same approach to complete FCC catalyst particles, it has been found that the fingerprint of the zeolitic UV/Vis spectra is clearly recognisable. This almost exclusive zeolitic activity is confirmed by the fact that hardly any reactivity is observed for FCC particles that contain no zeolite. Confocal fluorescence microscopy images of FCC catalyst particles reveal inhomogeneously distributed micron-sized zeolite domains with a highly fluorescent signal upon reaction. By examining laboratory deactivated FCC catalyst particles in a statistical approach, a clear trend of decreasing fluorescence intensity, and thus Br phi nsted acidity, of the zeolite domains is observed with increasing severity of the deactivation method. By comparing the average fluorescence intensities obtained with two styrenes that differ in reactivity, it has been found that the Br phi nsted acid site strength within FCC catalyst particles containing ZSM-5 is more uniform than within those containing zeolite Y, as confirmed with temperature-programmed desorption of ammonia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1094-1101
Number of pages8
JournalChemistry-A European Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • Acidity
  • Catalytic cracking
  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • Micro-spectroscopy
  • Oligomerization
  • Zeolites


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