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Rhodium pair-sites on magnesium oxide: Synthesis, characterization, and catalysis of ethylene hydrogenation

  • Author(s): Yang, D
  • Xu, P
  • Guan, E
  • Browning, ND
  • Gates, BC
  • et al.

© 2016 Published by Elsevier Inc. Supported rhodium acetate dimers were prepared by the reaction of Rh2(OAc)4(OAc is acetate) with highly dehydroxylated MgO powder and characterized by extended X-ray absorption fine structure and infrared (IR) spectra, which show that the supported species were well represented as Rh2(OAc)3, with each Rh atom on average bonded to one oxygen atom of the MgO surface. Aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy gave images of Rh atoms in pairs on the MgO. The supported rhodium dimers were probed with a pulse of CO, and the IR spectra indicate a Rh(II) species with weakly bonded carbonyl ligands; the sharpness of the νCOband indicates highly uniform surface species. Further treatment in CO led to breakup of the rhodium dimers into mononuclear species; such fragmentation took place in other treatment gases as well, with the degree of fragmentation decreasing in the order CO > C2H4> helium. The fragmentation is inferred on the basis of IR spectra to have proceeded through intermediate Rh2species without acetate ligands. In contrast, rhodium dimers were reduced and not fragmented in the presence of H2at 353 K, but at higher temperatures the rhodium aggregated to give larger clusters. The supported species catalyzed ethylene hydrogenation at 298 K and 1 bar at a H2:ethylene molar ratio of 4; after 27 h of catalysis in a once-through flow reactor, acetate ligands were removed from the dimers, and some of them fragmented, as shown by IR spectroscopy. The intermediate dirhodium species without acetate ligands are two or three orders of magnitude more active as catalysts than the supported mononuclear rhodium species or those present predominantly as Rh2(OAc)3, respectively.

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