Sci Rep. 2023 Jan 11;13(1):565. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-27432-7.
Carbon fibers (CFs) of high quality were produced from hydrocarbons such as isobutane or ethylene using the catalytic chemical vapor deposition method (CCVD) and Ni catalyst. The as-prepared samples were functionalized with acidic groups using concentrated sulfuric acid or 4-benzenediazonium sulfonate (BDS) generated in situ from sulfanilic acid and sodium nitrite. The morphological features of the materials were confirmed by transmission electron microscopy, whereas their physicochemical properties were characterized by means of elemental and textural analyses, thermogravimetric (TG) method, Raman spectroscopy, potentiometric back titration, and X-ray diffraction analysis. The obtained CFs were used as catalysts in glycerol etherification with tert-butyl alcohol at 110 °C under autogenous pressure. The BDS-modified CFs were particularly effective in the reaction, showing high glycerol conversions (of about 45-55% after 6 h) and substantial yields of mono- and di-glycerol ethers. It was found that the chemistry of the sample surface was crucial for the process. The high concentration of -SO3H groups decorating CFs boosted the formation of di- and tri-tert-butyl glycerol ethers. Surface oxygen functionalities also had a positive effect on the reaction, however, their impact on the catalytic performances of CFs was significantly weaker compared to that shown by -SO3H groups and it was probably due to the adsorption of reagents on the catalyst surface.