Metal–support interactions in the cobalt–alumina system are evaluated using an inverse model system generated by impregnating Co3
with a solution of aluminum sec-butoxide in n-hexane. This results in the formation of nano-sized alumina islands on the surface of cobalt oxide. The activated model systems were kinetically evaluated for their activity and selectivity in the Fischer–Tropsch synthesis under industrially relevant conditions (220 °C, 20 bar). The kinetic measurements were complemented by H2
-chemisorption, CO-TPR, and pyridine TPD. It is shown that the introduction of aluminum in the model system results in the formation of strong acid sites and enhanced CO dissociation, as evidenced in the CO-TPR. The incorporation of aluminum in the model systems led to a strong increase in the activity factor per surface atom of cobalt in the rate expression proposed by Botes et al. (2009). However, the addition of aluminum also resulted in a strong increase in the kinetic inhibition factor. This is accompanied by a strong decrease in the methane selectivity, and an increase in the desired C5+
selectivity. The observed activity and selectivity changes are attributed to the increase in the coverage of the surface with carbon with increasing aluminum content, due to the facilitation of CO dissociation in the presence of Lewis acid sites associated with the alumina islands on the catalytically active material.
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