Selective oxidation of biomass-derived chemicals using supported metal catalysts
Greener and more sustainable chemicals manufacture requires the development of new synthetic protocols and processes; offering enhanced atom-economy and energy efficiency. The green synthesis of polyfunctional aldehydes and acids has been the focus of intense research and discussion, due to their widespread application in agrochemical, fine and pharmaceutical sectors. Heterogeneous metal catalysts (Au, Pd, Pt etc.) are particularly active, with catalyst oxidation performance a strong function of metal electronic structure and support textural properties.
In our group, we have used Au nanoparticles (2-4 nm) on functionalized carbon to demonstrate how catalytic pathways can be influenced by support surface groups in oxidation processes. Oxide supports have also been studied for Au and Ag-catalysed butadiene hydrogenation and ethylene epoxidation respectively.
In this project, we will combine a variety of characterization techniques, such as XRD, XPS, HRTEM, chemisorption, UV-VIS spectroscopy etc., in order to build upon previous findings and better understand the role of metal nanoparticle and support properties on catalytic performance in the synthesis of aldehydes and acids, from their respective alcohols and aldehydes, through selective oxidation.
Understanding the complex reaction pathways and active sites involved will aid in the smarter design of the next generation of heterogeneous selective oxidation catalysts.
Figure 1: An illustrative representation for the oxidation of alcohols and aldehydes over supported metal nanoparticles.
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