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Acid-Functionalized SBA-15-Type Periodic Mesoporous Organosilicas and Their Use in the Continuous Production of 5‑Hydroxymethylfurfural

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journal contribution
posted on 07.09.2012, 00:00 by Mark H. Tucker, Anthony J. Crisci, Bethany N. Wigington, Neelay Phadke, Ricardo Alamillo, Jinping Zhang, Susannah L. Scott, James A. Dumesic
The activity, selectivity, and stability of several supported acid catalysts were evaluated in tubular reactors designed to produce 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) continuously from fructose dissolved in a single-phase solution of THF and H2O (4:1 w/w). The reactors, packed with the solid catalysts, were operated at 403 K for extended periods, up to 190 h. The behaviors of three propylsulfonic acid-functionalized, ordered porous silicas (one inorganic SBA-15-type silica, and two ethane-bridged SBA-15-type organosilicas) were compared with that of a propylsulfonic acid-modified, nonordered, porous silica. The HMF selectivity of the catalysts with ordered pore structures ranged from 60 to 75%, whereas the selectivity of the nonordered catalyst under the same reaction conditions peaked at 20%. The latter was also the least stable, deactivating with a first-order rate constant of 0.152 h–1. The organosilicas are more hydrothermally stable and maintained a steady catalytic activity longer than the inorganic SBA-15-type silica. The organosilica with an intermediate framework ethane content of 45 mol % was more stable, with a first-order deactivation rate constant of only 0.012 h–1, than the organosilica containing 90 mol % ethane linkers in the framework. The catalysts were recovered and characterized after use by 13C and 29Si solid-state NMR, elemental analysis, nitrogen adsorption/desorption, X-ray diffraction, and SEM/TEM. Deactivation under flow conditions is caused primarily by hydrolytic cleavage of acid sites, which can be (to some) extent recaptured by the free surface hydroxyl groups of the silica surface.