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Porous Ti/Zr Microspheres for Efficient Transfer Hydrogenation of Biobased Ethyl Levulinate to γ‑Valerolactone

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journal contribution
posted on 21.03.2017, 08:13 by Tingting Yang, Hu Li, Jian He, Yanxiu Liu, Wenfeng Zhao, Zhongwei Wang, Xiaoxiao Ji, Song Yang
γ-Valerolactone (GVL) is one of the versatile platform molecules and biofuel additives derived from the lignocellulosic biomass. Herein, the efficient synthesis of GVL from biobased ethyl levulinate (EL) using alcohol as both H-donor and solvent without an external hydrogen source has been achieved over porous Ti/Zr microspheres. The catalysts (TixZry) with different Ti/Zr molar ratios were synthesized using hexadecylamine (HDA) as a structure-directing agent via a sol–gel process combined with solvothermal treatment and characterized by scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, thermal gravimetric analysis, NH3/CO2-TPD, N2 adsorption–desorption, and pyridine-IR. A high GVL yield of 90.1% at 100% EL conversion was obtained at 180 °C for 6 h over Ti2Zr8 in 2-propanol. The microspheric and porous structure, enhanced surface areas, and acid/base contents by the proper introduction of Ti species into Zr oxide were demonstrated to be responsible for the pronounced performance. The microspheric Ti2Zr8 porous catalyst could be reused at least six times with no decrease in catalytic activity.