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Elucidation by computer simulations of the CUS regeneration mechanism during HDS over MoS2 in combination with 35S experiments

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The first part of this paper is a short review of the 35S radioactive tracer methods developed in recent years. Then, the experimental results obtained so far on Mo/Al2O3 catalysts are compared with computer simulation results recently claimed in order to elucidate the coordinatively unsaturated site (CUS) creation/replenishment/ regeneration mechanism over MoS2 crystallites. The computer simulations allowed us to pre-select thermodynamically acceptable mechanisms among a set of suggested ones. Then, by comparison of the calculated activation energies with the 35S experiments results we could further validate the most probable mechanism. This mechanism involved the dissociative adsorption of an H2 molecule on the metallic edge of a MoS2 crystallite surface with further creation of a CUS by release of one H2S molecule in the gas phase. Both laboratory and computer simulated experiments permitted to calculate the activation energy for the H2S liberation reaction. In both cases, this energy was about 10- 12 kcal/mol, confirming the accuracy of the proposed mechanism. Moreover, the calculated activation energy of the rate-limiting step for the creation of one CUS by the proposed mechanism was about 23 kcal/mol, which was also in good agreement with the experimental activation energy of the dibenzothiophene (DBT) hydrodesulphurisation (HDS) reaction (typically about 20- 22 kcal/mol). This correlation indicated that the DBT HDS reaction rate might be intrinsically governed by the CUS formation/replenishment process, i.e. that the vacancy formation process is a crucial parameter in the global HDS reaction mechanism. Nevertheless, in the case of the 4,6-dimethyl DBT (4,6-DMDBT) HDS reaction, the experimental activation energy is higher (approx. 30 kcal/mol), confirming that external parameters induced by the 4,6-DMDBT-specific properties themselves are likely to play an important role in the reaction process, in addition to the ones intrinsic to the catalytic phase.


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