Research ArticleChemistry

Dynamic metal-polymer interaction for the design of chemoselective and long-lived hydrogenation catalysts

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Science Advances  08 Jul 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 28, eabb7369
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb7369


Metal catalysts are generally supported on hard inorganic materials because of their high thermochemical stabilities. Here, we support Pd catalysts on a thermochemically stable but “soft” engineering plastic, polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), for acetylene partial hydrogenation. Near the glass transition temperature (~353 K), the mobile PPS chains cover the entire surface of Pd particles via strong metal-polymer interactions. The Pd-PPS interface enables H2 activation only in the presence of acetylene that has a strong binding affinity to Pd and thus can disturb the Pd-PPS interface. Once acetylene is hydrogenated to weakly binding ethylene, re-adsorption of PPS on the Pd surface repels ethylene before it is further hydrogenated to ethane. The Pd-PPS interaction enables selective partial hydrogenation of acetylene to ethylene even in an ethylene-rich stream and suppresses catalyst deactivation due to coke formation. The results manifest the unique possibility of harnessing dynamic metal-polymer interaction for designing chemoselective and long-lived catalysts.

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