The selective hydrogenation of acetylene from ethylene rich streams was conducted at high pressure and in the presence of CO over two 1 wt% loaded Pd/TiO2 catalysts with differing dispersions. Although, the more poorly dispersed sample did not result in high acetylene conversion only a small proportion of the total available ethylene was hydrogenated to ethane. The more highly dispersed sample was able to remove acetylene to a level below the detection limit but this was at the expense of significant proportion (ca. 30%) of the available ethylene. Modification of the catalysts by exposure to triphenyl phosphine or diphenyl sulfide and subsequent reduction at 393 K led to improved performance with increased conversion of acetylene and decreased propensity to hydrogenate ethylene resulting in an overall net gain in ethylene. The higher dispersed sample which had been ligand modified provided the best results overall and in particular for the diphenyl sulfide treated sample which was able to completely eliminate acetylene and still obtain a net gain in ethylene. The differences observed are thought to be due to the creation of appropriate active ensembles of Pd atoms which are able to accommodate acetylene but have limited ability to adsorb ethylene. Sub-surface hydrogen formation was suppressed, but not eliminated, by exposure to modifier.
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