Selective Oxidations using Nanostructured Heterogeneous Catalysts

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The aim of this thesis is to investigate and develop new efficient methods to oxidise alcohols and amines using heterogeneous catalysts and either O2 or H2O2 as oxidants. From an economic and environmental point of view, these oxidants are ideal, because they are cheap and readily available and because they produce H2O as the only by-product. Chapter 1 gives a short introduction to basic concepts in heterogeneous catalysis and green chemistry. Furthermore, the chapter gives an overview of the most important strategies to synthesise functional nanostructured materials and highlights how detailed understanding of size, shape and structure can help in the development of new and more efficient heterogeneous catalysts. The chapter is not intended to give a complete survey, but rather to introduce some of the recent developments in the synthesis of nanostructured heterogeneous catalysts. Finally, the chapter focuses on the use of supported metal catalysts for the selective oxidation of alcohols, which are currently dominated by the platinum group metals. Chapter 2 deals with the most important methods to characterise heterogeneous catalysts, including X-ray powder diffraction, physisorption analysis and electron microscopy. In particular, the chapter gives an introduction to electron tomography, which makes it possible to visualise and analyse the detailed three-dimensional features of nanostructured heterogeneous catalysts. Chapter 3 deals with the surprisingly high catalytic activity of supported gold nanoparticles with particular emphasis on the nature of the active site and the requirements needed to be considered when designing new catalytic systems. Furthermore, the chapter describes some of the most important methods to synthesise small and disperse gold nanoparticles on different supports. Chapter 4 describes a novel method for the two-step synthesis of amides from alcohols and amines using Au/TiO2 and base as catalysts. In the first step, a methyl ester is obtained by the gold-catalysed aerobic oxidation of the alcohol in methanol. Base is promoting this reaction. In the second step, the amine is added and the methyl ester undergoes base-catalysed aminolysis to give the desired amide. As the same base is used for both reactions, the synthesis could be performed in a convenient one-pot procedure. The oxidative coupling was applied to a number of different alcohols and amines to demonstrate the versatility of the reaction protocol to a broader range of substrates. Chapter 5 describes the investigation of different silver catalysts for the synthesis of imines from alcohols and amines. The reactions were performed at relatively mild conditions (100°C and atmospheric pressure) without any additives or co-catalysts and afforded the desired imines with high selectivity (up to 99%). The highest catalytic activity was obtained with 5 wt% Ag/Al2O3 in toluene with air as oxidant, although the reaction also occurred under inert atmosphere by releasing H2 into the gas-phase. Chapter 6 gives a short introduction to zeolites and the important concept of shape selectivity. Furthermore, the chapter describes the different strategies that can be used to over-come diffusion limitations. Chapter 7 demonstrates that mesoporous titanium silicalite-1 prepared by carbontemplating is an efficient catalyst for oxidation of pyridines to pyridine N-oxides using aqueous H2O2 as oxidant. The chapter begins with an introduction to N-oxides and an outline of recent development in the synthesis of ordered titanosilicates with focus on the efforts to overcome diffusion limitations. Chapter 8 describes how the continuing technological developments in biomass processing have made bioethanol a promising platform molecule for the production of a variety of value-added chemicals. Furthermore, the chapter describes a simple and effective method to encapsulate gold nanoparticles into a MFI zeolite and demonstrate their remarkable stability, catalytic activity and selectivity for the gas-phase oxidation of bioethanol to acetaldehyde, which may become a favourable and green alternative to the ethylene route.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDTU Chemical Engineering
Number of pages188
Publication statusPublished - 2014


Catalytic Routes to Renewable Chemicals

Mielby, J. J., Riisager, A., Kegnæs, S., Ståhl, K., Stakheev, A. Y. & Herbst, K.

Technical University of Denmark


Project: PhD

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