Visualizing dealumination of a single zeolite domain in a real-life catalytic cracking particle

Samanbir Kalirai, Pasi P. Paalanen, Jian Wang, Florian Meirer, Bert M. Weckhuysen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) catalysts play a central role in the chemical conversion of crude oil fractions. Using scanning transmission X-ray microscopy (STXM) we investigate the chemistry of one fresh and two industrially deactivated (ECAT) FCC catalysts at the single zeolite domain level. Spectro-microscopic data at the Fe L3, La M5, and Al K X-ray absorption edges reveal differing levels of deposited Fe on the ECAT catalysts corresponding with an overall loss in tetrahedral Al within the zeolite domains. Using La as a localization marker, we have developed a novel methodology to map the changing Al distribution of single zeolite domains within real-life FCC catalysts. It was found that significant changes in the zeolite domain size distributions as well as the loss of Al from the zeolite framework occur. Furthermore, inter- and intraparticle heterogeneities in the dealumination process were observed, revealing the complex interplay between metal-mediated pore accessibility loss and zeolite dealumination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11134-11138
Number of pages5
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number37
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • dealumination
  • fluid catalytic cracking
  • heterogeneous catalysis
  • X-ray microscopy
  • zeolites


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