Micro-spectroscopic Characterization of Fluid Catalytic Cracking Catalysts
Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) is an industrial process for the production of valuable chemicals (e.g. gasoline and olefins) from crude oil feedstock. During this process, the cracking of long chain molecules into smaller hydrocarbons is catalyzed by the hierarchically structured FCC catalyst. 
The high activity of the FCC catalyst particle is governed by the interplay of the alumina matrix, that ensures the transport and the pre-cracking of larger feedstock molecules, and the zeolite domain, where Brønsted acidic sites promote the catalytic cracking process with a high selectivity for the desired products. 
Due to the harsh conditions in the reactor the FCC catalyst is subjected to fast deactivation, which is mainly caused by feedstock metal poisoning and hydrothermal degradation. [3-5]
The aim of this project is to compare deactivation effects in FCC catalysts at different length scales, using 2D and 3D X-Ray micro-spectroscopy techniques. Mapping poisoning metals will help to assess their role in catalyst aging phenomena and to model the deactivation mechanism in the FCC catalyst particle. In addition, staining with fluorescent probes will help to elucidate the nature and distribution of active sites.
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September 2017 – present
Postdoctoral researcher under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Ir. Bert M. Weckhuysen
Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis group, Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.
January 2014 –March 2017
Ph.D. candidate in “Materials Science and Nanotechnology”
University of Catania – University of Palermo, Italy.
Thesis: Structural study, computational analysis and structure-property correlations in anion conducting electrolytes for Solid Oxide Fuel Cells.
Advisor: Prof. Antonino Martorana, Physics and Chemistry department, University of Palermo
September 2016 – October 2016
Visiting Ph.D. Scholar under the supervision of Dr. Alessandro Longo
Dutch-Belgian Beamline (DUBBLE, BM26), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), Grenoble, France.
October 2015 – April 2016
Visiting Ph.D. Scholar in the group of Prof. Carlo Adamo,
Complex Systems Modeling group, École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Paris (ENSCP Chimie ParisTech), Paris, France.
Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Chemistry, University of Palermo, Italy.
Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Chemistry, University of Palermo, Italy.