Journal of Catalysis Spotlights Hock Research on New Cobalt Catalyst

Editors of the Journal of Catalysis have selected an article co-authored by Adam Hock, assistant professor of chemistry, as a Featured Article for the February issue. This means it will run on the homepage and be available for free for three months.

The article, written by Hock with colleagues from Illinois Institute of Technology, Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), and Northwestern University, is entitled “Selective propane dehydrogenation with single-site CoII on SiO2 by a non-redox mechanism.” It describes a new cobalt catalyst that selectively transforms propane to propene and hydrogen. This is the second in a series of articles from the research team that explores these types of catalysts.

Propene, with worldwide sales of $90 billion in 2008, is a crucial product for the petrochemical industry, used in the manufacture of plastics, packaging, and other applications. Catalysts commonly used to transform propane to propene produce propene as well as methane and ethylene. Separating the desired products adds to the cost of the process.

To address this problem, last year Hock and his teammates introduced a new silica-supported single-site zinc catalyst that was more selective for the desired propane to propene transformation, reducing waste, increasing efficiency, and potentially lowering production costs.

The new catalyst is the result of understanding the surface chemistry during the synthesis. This understanding was greatly enhanced by studying the synthesis and operating catalyst using a variety of techniques including the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at ANL.

Co-authors on the paper include senior chemists and postdoctoral fellows from ANL, chemistry faculty from Northwestern University, and graduate students from Illinois Tech.