Dr. Mark E. Bussell, Chemistry Department, Western Washington University, is supported by the Inorganic, Bioinorganic, and Organometallic Chemistry Program of the Chemistry Division for the development of metal phosphide hydrotreating catalysts. Metal phosphide catalysts will be prepared using the temperature-programmed reduction method, in which oxidic precursors are reduced in flowing hydrogen to give metal phosphide particles dispersed on high surface area, metal oxide supports. A carefully selected group of binary and ternary metal phosphides will be prepared and their ability to serve as hydrodesulfurization (HDS) or hydrodenitrification (HDN) catalysts will be investigated. The role of phosphide composition will be probed by varying the metal-to-phosphorus ratio in binary phosphides and the effect of a second metal in ternary phosphides will be assessed. A second goal will be to support highly active metal phosphides on a range of binary metal oxides, mixed metal oxides, and phosphate containing supports. These support materials have been selected because of their acidity, which will introduce bifunctionality into the phosphide catalysts.
The outcome of this research will be the development and detailed evaluation of highly active metal phosphide hydrotreating catalysts. Additionally, an understanding will be developed of the roles of the phosphide composition and oxide support on the catalytic properties of these materials. Hydrodesulfurization catalysis is a critical process in the petroleum industry, selectively removing sulfur from organosulfur compounds found in crude oil. The goal of the research described in this proposal is the development of a new class of hydrotreating catalysts based on transition metal phosphides. Undergraduate and M.S. level students will be fully involved in all aspects of the research project.