Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Chemical Engineering


Bruce, David A

Committee Member

Kitchens , Christopher L

Committee Member

Husson , Scott M

Committee Member

Creager , Stephen E


Current automobiles use catalytic converters, consisting of noble metals on an oxide support, to convert noxious engine exhaust pollutants into less harmful species. The development of mesoporous oxide supports with optimal pore geometries could enable these devises to decrease in size and weight and significantly reduce the metal loadings required to achieve optimal performance. Thus, in this work, I investigated a wide range of techniques for the synthesis of mesoporous oxides to determine if they could be adapted to ceria-zirconia-yttria mixed oxide (CZY) systems, which are the industry standard for the optimal oxide support for catalytic converter applications. Additionally, I compared and critically evaluated the catalytic performance of the CZY mixed oxides, which were synthesized from the various templating techniques. The catalytic performance test was broken up into two: catalyst activity test which was determined based on the light-off temperatures at which 50% conversion of the reacting species have been converted; and resistance to surface area loss under accelerated aging at heating rate of 20 ºC/min form 700 to 1000 ºC, with the final temperature being held fixed for 4 h.
To date, the most cost effective methods for preparing mesoporous materials are via techniques that employ templates or structure directing agents. These templates can be divided into two groups: endo-templates (i.e., soft templates, such as surfactants, dendrimers, and block copolymers) and exo-templates (i.e., hard templates, such as porous carbons and resins). The soft templating techniques generally involve both sol-gel and templating methods, while the hard templates required no sol-gel chemistry to achieve the desired templating effect. The precursors for ceria, zirconia, and yttria used were cerium (III) nitrate hexahydrate, zirconyl nitrate, and yttrium nitrate hexahydrate, respectively. The mesoporous CZY materials that were synthesized had surface area values that were between 40 and 120 m2/g and pore diameters that range from 2.2 to 9.0 nm after calcination in air from ambient temperature to 600 °C at heating rates varied from 1 to 20 °C /min, with the final temperature being maintained for 4 h.
The novel CZY oxides that were prepared from the different templating techniques were characterized using nitrogen physisorption to determine the Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) surface area and the Barrett-Joyner-Halenda (BJH) pore size distribution. Samples that showed some promise were further examined by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to study the morphology of the structure; scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to study the bulk surface structure; thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) to determine physical and chemical changes occurring during calcination; elemental analysis to determine composition; powder X-ray diffraction (PXD) to determine the existence of crystalline structure; and small angle X-ray diffraction (SAXD) to determine the occurrence of mesoscale ordering of repeating units. Finally, selected samples underwent catalytic testing under simulated exhaust conditions. The results of the tests showed that CZY materials synthesized using sol-gel methods with the Pluronic P123 soft template were the most active (i.e., had the lowest light off temperature), while CZY material with least loss of surface area after accelerated aging from 700 to1000 ºC was the polymeric resin templated CZY materials.