Fine cubic Cu(2)O nanocrystals as highly selective catalyst for propylene epoxidation with molecular oxygen

Nat Commun. 2021 Oct 11;12(1):5921. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-26257-0.

ABSTRACT

Propylene epoxidation with O2 to propylene oxide is a very valuable reaction but remains as a long-standing challenge due to unavailable efficient catalysts with high selectivity. Herein, we successfully explore 27 nm-sized cubic Cu2O nanocrystals enclosed with {100} faces and {110} edges as a highly selective catalyst for propylene epoxidation with O2, which acquires propylene oxide selectivity of more than 80% at 90-110 °C. Propylene epoxidation with weakly-adsorbed O2 species at the {110} edge sites exhibits a low barrier and is the dominant reaction occurring at low reaction temperatures, leading to the high propylene oxide selectivity. Such a weakly-adsorbed O2 species is not stable at high reaction temperatures, and the surface lattice oxygen species becomes the active oxygen species to participate in propylene epoxidation to propylene oxide and propylene partial oxidation to acrolein at the {110} edge sites and propylene combustion to CO2 at the {100} face sites, which all exhibit high barriers and result in decreased propylene oxide selectivity.

PMID:34635649 | DOI:10.1038/s41467-021-26257-0

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