A novel microstructured catalyst that consists of Cu/ZnO catalyst powders and ceramic fibers was successfully prepared using pulp fibers as a tentative matrix by a papermaking technique. As-prepared material, called a paper-structured catalyst, possessed porous microstructure with layered ceramic fiber networks (average pore size ca. 20 μm, porosity ca. 50%). In the process of methanol autothermal reforming (ATR) to produce hydrogen, paper-structured catalysts demonstrated both high methanol conversion and low concentration of undesirable carbon monoxide as compared with catalyst powders and pellets. The catalytic performance of paper-structured catalysts depended on the use of pulp fibers, which were added in the paper-forming process and finally removed by thermal treatment before ATR performance tests. Confocal laser scanning microscopy and mercury intrusion analysis suggested that the tentative pulp fiber matrix played a significant role in regulating the fiber-network microstructure inside paper composites. Various metallic filters with different average pore sizes, used as supports for Cu/ZnO catalysts, were subjected to ATR performance tests for elucidating the pore effects. The tests indicated that the pore sizes of catalyst support had critical effects on the catalytic efficiency: the maximum hydrogen production was achieved by metallic filters with an average pore size of 20 μm. These results suggested that the paper-specific microstructures contributed to form a suitable catalytic reaction environment, possibly by promoting efficient diffusion of heat and reactants. The paper-structured catalyst with a regular pore microstructure is expected to be a promising catalytic material to provide both practical utility and high efficiency in the catalytic gas-reforming process.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering