Selective oxidation of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons
This thesis targets the selective oxidation of polynuclear aromatic compounds, which is considered as a preliminary step of upgrading of heavy oils, resids and bitumens to higher value materials in the liquid phase using different catalytic systems.\ud Oxidation studies concentrated on simple model polyaromatic compounds and their alkylated derivatives. Ruthenium ion catalyzed oxidation chemistry has the potential to selectively oxidize PAHs and this system was studied in great detail with particular attention made to the reaction solvent system. Through careful studies it was found that the use of a monophasic solvent system led to the selective oxidative opening of an aromatic ring to produce the dialdehyde derivative. It was demonstrated that under standard conditions the rate of oxidation increased with the size of the fused ring system. 1H NMR methodology was developed to quantify the percentage of alkyl chain hydrogens preserved after reaction. It was found that the ruthenium based system demonstrated a high affinity for the oxidation of aromatic carbon with a low tendency to oxidise aliphatic carbon. These studies formed the basis of a detailed investigation into the mechanism of ruthenium ion catalyzed oxidation of PAHs.\ud Investigation into another catalytic system which uses a homogeneous tungsten catalyst with hydrogen peroxide as the oxidant was also performed. Early studies showed that the H2WO4/H2O2 catalytic system exhibits high solvent dependant selectivity towards preferential oxidation of aromatic carbon. What is more, studies using alkylated aromatics with a alkyl chain greater than C8 showed that even in a non polar solvent the selectivity of oxidation is directed towards the aromatic carbon.\ud A range of catalytic systems containing tungsten, ruthenium, heteropolyacids and their heterogenised equivalents were also applied to the oxidation of PAHs. Au-Pd supported catalysts in combination with molecular oxygen and H2WO4 were also used for the oxidation of PAHs and the results obtained opened a new path in the research of PAHs.\ud Studies on the oxidative desulfurization, denitrogenation of heteroaromatics and the demetallation of nickel and vanadium porphyrines was also performed and are reported in this thesis.
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