New catalyst selectively promotes hydrodeoxygenation reaction – Chemical Engineering
By Scott Jenkins |
Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL; Upton, N.Y.; www.bnl.gov) and the University of Delaware (Newark; www.udel.edu) have designed a catalyst capable of selectively removing oxygen atoms from the side chain of an aromatic compound without affecting the ring. The team demonstrated the catalyst by converting the plant derivative furfuryl alcohol into the potential biofuel 2-methylfuran through a hydrodeoxygenation reaction.
The catalyst consists of highly dispersed platinum atoms (single atoms or sub-nanometer clusters) doped onto the surface of a support, the moderately reducible metal oxide TiO2. TiO2 was chosen because it avoids bulk reduction, which is observed with other metal oxides that are the most active for C-O bond breaking. The catalyst design selectively breaks the carbon-oxygen bond on the side group of the plant alcohol without sparking any reactions involving the aromatic ring (diagram).
When only a low concentration of Pt is used, the ring reactions are negligible, but as the Pt concentration is increased, the platinum atoms begin to aggregate into larger clusters, which incite ring reactions, the team says.
The BNL-Delaware study of biomass conversion to biofuels used a combination of experiments, characterization techniques and computer simulations that allowed a detailed understanding of the surface chemistry. This approach could help predict additional catalyst designs that could carry out other conversions of desired products, the scientists say.