Role of Sulfation of Zirconia Catalysts in Vapor Phase Ketonization of Acetic Acid

J Phys Chem C Nanomater Interfaces. 2021 Dec 23;125(50):27578-27595. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.1c06920. Epub 2021 Dec 13.


The effect of the sulfation of zirconia catalysts on their structure, acidity/basicity, and catalytic activity/selectivity toward the ketonization of organic acids is investigated by a combined experimental and computational method. Here, we show that, upon sulfation, zirconia catalysts exhibit a significant increase in their Brønsted and Lewis acid strength, whereas their Lewis basicity is significantly reduced. Such changes in the interplay between acid-base sites result in an improvement of the selectivity toward the ketonization process, although the measured conversion rates show a significant drop. We report a detailed DFT investigation of the putative surface species on sulfated zirconia, including the possible formation of dimeric pyrosulfate (S2O72-) species. Our results show that the formation of such a dimeric system is an endothermic process, with energy barriers ranging between 60.0 and 70.0 kcal mol-1, and which is likely to occur only at high SO42- coverages (4 S/nm2), high temperatures, and dehydrating conditions. Conversely, the formation of monomeric species is expected at lower SO42- coverages, mild temperatures, and in the presence of water, which are the usual conditions experienced during the chemical upgrading of biofuels.

PMID:34970379 | PMC:PMC8713292 | DOI:10.1021/acs.jpcc.1c06920


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