Hydrothermally Stable, Conformal, Sulfated Zirconia Monolayer Catalysts for Glucose Conversion to 5-HMF

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Osastiashtiami, Amin ; Lee, Adam F. ; Granollers, Marta ; Brown, D.R. ; Olivi, Luca ; Morales, Gabriel ; Melero, Juan A. ; Wilson, Karen ; Aston University ; University of Huddersfield ; Universidad Rey Juan Carlos ; Sincrotrone Trieste (2015)

The grafting and sulfation of zirconia conformal monolayers on SBA-15 to create mesoporous catalysts of tunable solid acid/base character is reported. Conformal zirconia and sulfated zirconia (SZ) materials exhibit both Brönsted and Lewis acidity, with the Brönsted/Lewis acid ratio increasing with film thickness and sulfate content. Grafted zirconia films also exhibit amphoteric character, whose Brönsted/Lewis acid site ratio increases with sulfate loading at the expense of base sites. Bilayer ZrO2/SBA-15 affords an ordered mesoporous material with a high acid site loading upon sulfation and excellent hydrothermal stability. Catalytic performance of SZ/SBA-15 was explored in the aqueous phase conversion of glucose to 5-HMF, delivering a 3-fold enhancement in 5-HMF productivity over nonporous SZ counterparts. The coexistence of accessible solid basic/Lewis acid and Brönsted acid sites in grafted SZ/SBA-15 promotes the respective isomerization of glucose to fructose and dehydration of reactively formed fructose to the desired 5-HMF platform chemical.
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