Bifunctional Molybdenum Polyoxometalates for the Combined Hydrodeoxygenation and Alkylation of Lignin-Derived Model Phenolics.

PMID 28371565


Reductive catalytic fractionation of biomass has recently emerged as a powerful lignin extraction and depolymerization method to produce monomeric aromatic oxygenates in high yields. Here, bifunctional molybdenum-based polyoxometalates supported on titania (POM/TiO2 ) are shown to promote tandem hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) and alkylation reactions, converting lignin-derived oxygenated aromatics into alkylated benzenes and alkylated phenols in high yields. In particular, anisole and 4-propylguaiacol were used as model compounds for this gas-phase study using a packed-bed flow reactor. For anisole, 30 % selectivity for alkylated aromatic compounds (54 % C-alkylation of the methoxy groups by methyl balance) with an overall 72 % selectivity for HDO at 82 % anisole conversion was observed over H3 PMo12 O40 /TiO2 at 7 h on stream. Under similar conditions, 4-propylguaiacol was mainly converted into 4-propylphenol and alkylated 4-propylphenols with a selectivity to alkylated 4-propylphenols of 42 % (77 % C-alkylation) with a total HDO selectivity to 4-propylbenzene and alkylated 4-propylbenzenes of 4 % at 92 % conversion (7 h on stream). Higher catalyst loadings pushed the 4-propylguaiacol conversion to 100 % and resulted in a higher selectivity to propylbenzene of 41 %, alkylated aromatics of 21 % and alkylated phenols of 17 % (51 % C-alkylation). The reactivity studies coupled with catalyst characterization revealed that Lewis acid sites act synergistically with neighboring Brønsted acid sites to simultaneously promote alkylation and hydrodeoxygenation activity. A reaction mechanism is proposed involving activation of the ether bond on a Lewis acid site, followed by methyl transfer and C-alkylation. Mo-based POMs represent a versatile catalytic platform to simultaneously upgrade lignin-derived oxygenated aromatics into alkylated arenes.

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