Marianna Gambino

Postdoctoral Fellow

Employed since: September 2017
UU telephone number: +31 6 2273 6392
Room number: 4.76

Micro-spectroscopic Characterization of Fluid Catalytic Cracking Catalysts

Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) is an industrial process for the production of valuable chemicals (e.g. gasoline and olefins) from crude oil feedstock. During this process, the cracking of long chain molecules into smaller hydrocarbons is catalyzed by the hierarchically structured FCC catalyst. [1]

The high activity of the FCC catalyst particle is governed by the interplay of the alumina matrix, that ensures the transport and the pre-cracking of larger feedstock molecules, and the zeolite domain, where Brønsted acidic sites promote the catalytic cracking process with a high selectivity for the desired products. [2]

Due to the harsh conditions in the reactor the FCC catalyst is subjected to fast deactivation, which is mainly caused by feedstock metal poisoning and hydrothermal degradation. [3-5]

The aim of this project is to compare deactivation effects in FCC catalysts at different length scales, using 2D and 3D X-Ray micro-spectroscopy techniques. Mapping poisoning metals will help to assess their role in catalyst aging phenomena and to model the deactivation mechanism in the FCC catalyst particle. In addition, staining with fluorescent probes will help to elucidate the nature and distribution of active sites.


[1] E. T. C. Vogt, B. M. Weckhuysen, Chem. Soc. Rev. 2015, 44, 7342–7370.

[2] J. Scherzer, Appl. Catal. 1991, 75, 1–32.

[3] H. S. Cerqueira, G. Caeiro, L. Costa, F. Ramôa Ribeiro, J. Mol. Catal. A 2008, 292, 113.

[4] F. Meirer, S. Kalirai, D. Morris, S. Soparawalla, Y. Liu, G. Mesu, J.C. Andrews and B. M. Weckhuysen, Sci. Adv., 2015, 1 (3), e1400199.

[5] S. Kalirai, P. P. Paalanen, J. Wang, F. Meirer, B. M. Weckhuysen, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, 55, 11134-11138.