Recent studies indicate that heterogeneous catalysts vary tremendously, induced by dynamic changes in active sites both between and within single catalyst particles. Traditional characterization approaches of catalyst particles in large reactor vessels results in measurements representing ensemble averages. On the other hand, individual particle characterization is costly and time consuming and can therefore only be done on a limited amount of catalyst particles. There is a need for a single catalyst diagnostic platform to characterize single particles at low-cost and high-throughput, to enable a massive search to find and select the best catalyst particles and related synthesis formulation approaches. Droplet microfluidics can trap single catalyst particles at several thousands of droplets per second, and allows to graft, react, and analyse each particle individually. The most promising particles can be selected for further in-depth analysis. Ultimately, the knowledge obtained from this research project will help to improve catalyst particles for use in fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) in the areas of the petrochemical industry and biomass conversion.
Project leader: Prof. Albert van den Berg