Front Chem. 2022 Aug 5;10:961814. doi: 10.3389/fchem.2022.961814. eCollection 2022.
Developing a new and efficient catalytic route for the production of alkanes by upgrading the aqueous phenolic biofuels still remains a challenge. Here, we designed and synthesized a bifunctional catalyst that uses natural montmorillonite (MMT) as support and combines metal active sites and Brӧnsted acid sites in the MMT via ion exchange and reduction roasting process. The catalytic activity of the as-synthesized Pd-MMT (H+) was evaluated by the hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) of a series of lignin-derived phenolic compounds in water. Our model reaction study reveals that the HDO of phenol undergoes an initial hydrogenation of aromatic rings to produce cyclohexanol and cyclohexanone, followed by the dehydration of cyclohexanol to provide intermediate cyclohexene and a final hydrogenation of cyclohexene to create a cyclohexane product. The combination of high metal catalytic activity and Brӧnsted acidity in Pd-MMT (H+) synergistically accelerated the HDO of phenol. Furthermore, good catalytic activity and recycling ability were also observed for other lignin-derived phenolic compounds.