A study of the ageing and deactivation phenomena occurring during operation of an iron molybdate catalyst in formaldehyde production

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Catalyst from a Perstorp Formox formaldehyde plant, operating with high inlet concentration of methanol (10.2 vol.%), was discharged from single tubes of a multi-tube reactor after half the expected lifetime of the catalyst and again after termination of the load. Each tube was filled with two different layers of catalyst. From the inlet of the reactor the first layer was a catalyst mixed with inert rings, which was followed by a second layer of pure catalyst extending from the middle to the outlet of the reactor. Catalyst fractions from the two layers were characterized with various techniques including BET, Fourier transform Raman (FT-Raman) spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction (XRD), elemental analysis with atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS) and activity measurements. It was found that the surface area of the catalyst in the mixed layer increases during operation while a small decrease is noticeable for the catalyst below in the pure layer. Elemental analysis, XRD and FT-Raman show that during operation of the catalyst there is migration of Mo species from the upper part of the reactor towards the outlet. Activity measurements reveal severe deactivation of the catalyst in the mixed layer. It is concluded that the deactivation primarily is due to formation of volatile species formed by the MoO3 surface reacting methanol, causing a decrease of the MoO3/Fe-2(MoO4)(3) mole ratio in the catalyst. Concerning the catalyst in the pure layer, the condensation of needle-like crystals of MoO3 mainly occurs on the external surface of the catalyst ring.


  • Arne Andersson
  • M Hernelind
  • A Augustsson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Chemical Engineering


  • methanol oxidation, iron molybdate catalyst, deactivation, catalyst, formaldehyde
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-44
JournalCatalysis Today
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Publication categoryResearch