Artificial intelligence pathway search to resolve catalytic glycerol hydrogenolysis selectivity

Chem Sci. 2022 Jun 20;13(27):8148-8160. doi: 10.1039/d2sc02107b. eCollection 2022 Jul 13.


The complex interaction between molecules and catalyst surfaces leads to great difficulties in understanding and predicting the activity and selectivity in heterogeneous catalysis. Here we develop an end-to-end artificial intelligence framework for the activity prediction of heterogeneous catalytic systems (AI-Cat method), which takes simple inputs from names of molecules and metal catalysts and outputs the reaction energy profile from the input molecule to low energy pathway products. The AI-Cat method combines two neural network models, one for predicting reaction patterns and the other for providing the reaction barrier and energy, with a Monte Carlo tree search to resolve the low energy pathways in a reaction network. We then apply AI-Cat to resolve the reaction network of glycerol hydrogenolysis on Cu surfaces, which is a typical selective C-O bond activation system and of key significance for biomass-derived polyol utilization. We show that glycerol hydrogenolysis features a huge reaction network of relevant candidates, containing 420 reaction intermediates and 2467 elementary reactions. Among them, the surface-mediated enol-keto tautomeric resonance is a key step to facilitate the primary C-OH bond breaking and thus selects 1,2-propanediol as the major product on Cu catalysts. 1,3-Propanediol can only be produced under strong acidic conditions and high surface H coverage by following a hydrogenation-dehydration pathway. AI-Cat further discovers six low-energy reaction patterns for C-O bond activation on metals that is of general significance to polyol catalysis. Our results demonstrate that the reaction prediction for complex heterogeneous catalysis is now feasible with AI-based atomic simulation and a Monte Carlo tree search.

PMID:35919423 | PMC:PMC9278456 | DOI:10.1039/d2sc02107b


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