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The epoxidation of propene over gold nanoparticle catalysts

By T.A. Nijhuis, E. Sacaliuc and B.M. Weckhuysen


Different gold nanoparticle catalysts on titania, silica, and titanosilicate supports are compared in the hydro-epoxidation of propene. All catalysts tested were active in the propene epoxidation, with Au/TiO2 showing the highest activity at low temperature, but also a high rate of deactivation. It is shown that the deactivation of the catalysts is directly related to a side reaction of a bidentate propoxy reaction intermediate. This species can react to produce propene oxide, but as a side reaction it can also produce very strongly adsorbed species, most likely carbonates, which cause a reversible deactivation. There are no indications that the catalyst deactivation is caused by changes in the size or the state of the gold nanoparticles. Catalysts containing a lower amount of titania dispersed in or on a silica support are more stable, but require a higher reaction temperature for a similar activity. Ti-SBA-15 is the most promising support material, but the gold deposition inside the structure requires further optimization. A key factor, that needs to be solved for all gold catalysts, is the efficiency in which hydrogen is used as a coreactant. The currently obtained hydrogen efficiencies of up to 10% are insufficient to run a process profitably

Year: 2008
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