American Chemical Society
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Insights into the Role of Dual-Interfacial Sites in Cu/ZrO2 Catalysts in 5‑HMF Hydrogenolysis with Isopropanol

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-05-11, 12:04 authored by Xiumin Li, Pengfei Yang, Xinyi Zhang, Yanan Liu, Chenglin Miao, Junting Feng, Dianqing Li
In this work, we synthesized a series of Cu/ZrO2 catalysts with tunable Vo-Cu0 (oxygen vacancy adjacent to Cu metal) and VZr-Cuδ+ (zirconium vacancy adjacent to electron-deficient Cu species) dual-interface sites and investigated the role of the dual-interface sites in the 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF) hydrogenolysis reaction with isopropanol as the hydrogen source. By combining a series of in situ infrared characterization and catalytic performance analysis, it is identified that Vo-Cu0 interface sites were responsible for activating isopropanol dehydrogenation and CO dissociation of 5-HMF, while the VZr-Cuδ+ interface sites were responsible for the dehydroxylation of an intermediate product 5-methyl-2-furfuryl alcohol (5-MFA). Specifically, C–OH was first deprotonated on the VZr at the VZr-Cuδ+ interface site to reduce the activation energy of 5-MFA dehydroxylation and then adjacent Cuδ+ promoted the dissociation of the C–O bond by enhancing the adsorption energy while elongating the C–O bond, as confirmed by the density functional theory calculations. Because the dual-interface sites provided separate sites for activating intermediate products and reactants, the coupling reaction caused by competitive adsorption is thus well avoided. Therefore, the optimized Cu/ZrO2 catalyst with the most VZr-Cuδ+ and moderate Vo-Cu0 sites exhibited 98.4% of 2,5-dimethylfuran yield under the conditions of 180 °C and self-vapor pressure.