Zirconia as a support for catalysts: influence of additives on the thermal stability of the porous texture of monoclinic zirconia

P.D.L. Mercera, J.G. van Ommen, E.B.M. Doesburg, A.J. Burggraaf, J.R.H. Ross

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A single-phase monoclinic zirconia (the thermodynamically stable modification up to a temperature of 1170°C), having a specific surface area of 67 m2g¿1 and a well-developed mesoporous texture, has been prepared by gel-precipitation followed by calcination at 450°C. A commercially available high-surface area monoclinic zirconia powder (SBET=71 m2g¿1) has also been studied. It was found that the specific surface area and pore volume of monoclinic zirconia both decreased markedly on increasing the calcination temperature; despite the fact that the crystal structure was that of the stable modification, this did not seem to impart any substantial resistance to thermal sintering. The thermal stability of monoclinic zirconia could however be improved significantly by addition (by an impregnation technique) of various oxides: CaO, Y2O3, La2O3 all led to an improvement in the thermal stability up to 900°C while MgO exhibited stabilizing properties only up to 700°C; the best results were obtained with La2O3. All the additives investigated other than MgO were found to bring about a partial transition of the monoclinic to a fluorite-like phase of zirconia upon heat treatment; this phase has been shown in the case of the CaO-doped sample to be cubic zirconia and in the cases of the Y2O3- and La2O3-doped samples to be tetragonal zirconia. As little as 20¿50% of a theoretical monolayer quantity of La2O3 was sufficient to give satisfactory thermal stability. The results can be explained by a model involving mass transport by a surface diffusion mechanism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-391
Number of pages29
JournalApplied catalysis
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1991


  • Zirconia (monoclinic)
  • Catalyst preparation (additives)
  • Thermal stability
  • Sintering


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