Supported gold nanoparticles have been proven to be active in the hydrogenation of the acetylene. In this work, we applied gold nanoparticles supported on silica for the selective hydrogenation of acetylene in excess ethylene that was close to current industrial practices. Amine group surface-functionalized silica was used to absorb the gold precursor AuCl4-, and small size-controlled gold nanoparticles are formed after chemical reduction. For the first time, O 2 plasma was employed to remove the APTES grafted on the surface of silica for preparing the highly dispersed gold nanoparticles (∼3 nm). The results of IR, TGA, XRD, and TEM showed that O 2 plasma working under mild conditions (room temperature and low pressure) can efficiently remove the organic compounds without causing the aggregation of the gold nanoparticles. The plasma-treated catalyst Au/SiO 2 gave excellent low-temperature selective catalytic activity in the hydrogenation of acetylene. The effects of the reduction temperatures on the catalytic performances of the Au/SiO 2 were investigated. The enhanced performance of gold nanoparticles supported on silica as pretreated by O 2 plasma was ascribed to two effects: (1) the small size of the gold nanoparticles supported on silica, (2) the nearly neutral charge on the Au nanoparticle, which is favorable to the activation of hydrogen.
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