Hydrodenitrification with PdCu catalysts: Catalyst optimization by experimental and quantum chemical approaches

Irena Efremenko, Uri Matatov-Meytal, Moshe Sheintuch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


A continuous process for nitrate and nitrite abatement from drinking water by catalytic hydrogenation has been developed in our lab. We describe the experimental process development procedure, and support it with semiempirical quantum chemical methods. Comparisons of activated carbon (ACC) and silica glass fiber (GFC) cloths as supports for mono- and bimetallic Pd-Cu catalysts show the former to be 45-fold and 15-fold more active for nitrite and nitrate hydrogenation, respectively, than the latter. Catalysts prepared by selective deposition of Cu on Pd/ACC led to better activity for nitrate hydrogenation than catalysts prepared by co-impregnation or ion exchange methods. The optimal Cu:Pd atomic ratio was found to be 1:2. The computational results show the following: (i) The dispersion of Pd catalysts supported on ACC is much higher than that on GFC due to the larger surface area and higher density of adsorption sites, and that accounts for the higher activity of PdCu/ACC; (ii) Nanosized Pd particles supported on ACC have a semispherical shape and possess preferentially close-packed triangular surfaces, while Pd/GFC particles are extended in the direction parallel to the support surface and show both fee (100) and (111) planes; (iii) The interaction of Cu atoms with both supports is stronger than that of Pd; adsorbed Cu atoms show a greater ability to form monometallic than bimetallic bonds and that should result in poor mixing of the metal upon co-impregnation, as was observed experimentally; (iv) Cu atoms in bimetallic PdCu particles admit a significant positive charge; the experimentally measured solubility of metal atoms correlates with their calculated charges. The best catalyst (2 wt%Pd-0.6 wt%Cu/ACC) was employed in a novel continuous flow reactor for nitrate hydrogenation in distilled/and tap water. The advantages of the reactor investigated over a conventional packed bed reactor are discussed, suggesting a potential for further process intensification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalIsrael Journal of Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


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