The AEI cavity of SAPO-18 catalyst was modified with zinc cations with the conventional ion exchange procedure. The cavity modification effectively tunes the product selectivity, and shifts the products from mainly propylene to comparable production of ethylene and propylene in methanol to olefin (MTO) reaction. The incorporation of zinc ions and the generation of bicyclic aromatic species in the AEI cavity of SAPO-18 catalysts introduce additional diffusion hindrance that exert greater influence on the relatively bulky products (e.g. propylene and higher olefins), which increase the selectivity to small-sized products (e.g. ethylene). It appears that the incorporated zinc cations facilitate the generation of lower methylbenzenes which promote the generation of ethylene. The cavity modification via incorporating zinc ions effectively tunes the product selectivity over SAPO molecular sieves with relatively larger cavity, which provides a novel strategy to develop the potential alternative to SAPO-34 catalysts for industrial MTO reaction.
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