Catalytic Activity of Vanadium Oxide Nano-clusters
Vanadium oxide nano-clusters are used throughout industry as catalysts for important reactions such as the oxidation of SO2 to SO3 – an essential step in the production of sulfuric acid. However, little is known about their catalytic behavior and what structure of vanadium oxide, Vx Oy , actually participates in the various industrial reactions. Our focus is on the role these clusters play in the partial oxidation of methanol to formaldehyde because it is a relatively simple model system to study. From previous experiments we believe that the larger vanadium oxides such as VO3, V2 O5, and V2 O6, are catalytically active. Therefore, our immediate goal is to isolate each of these vanadium oxides and successfully deposit them onto our TiO2 substrate. After each successful deposition we will experimentally determine if the targeted vanadium oxide catalyzes the partial oxidation of methanol to formaldehyde. By running through each of the possible vanadium oxide combinations we will be able to definitively say which vanadium oxide or oxides exhibit catalytic behavior. Additionally, by using a combination of isotopically-labeled clusters and reactants, we will be able to experimentally determine the reaction mechanism of the partial oxidation of methanol to formaldehyde. Once this information is known it will be possible to improve the efficiency of the reactions that use this compound by synthesizing only the catalytically active nano-clusters.