The effect of catalyst modification on the conversion of glycerol to allyl alcohol

G. Sánchez, J. Friggieri, C. Keast, M. Drewery, B. Z. Dlugogorski, E. Kennedy, M. Stockenhuber

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Conversion of glycerol to allyl alcohol was carried out over an iron on alumina catalyst. With the aim of enhancing selectivity towards the desired product and to reduce acrolein formation (a detrimental impurity in the subsequent epoxidation of allyl alcohol) the supported iron catalyst was modified using alkali metals. It was found that lithium, sodium, potassium, rubidium and caesium deposition on the catalyst surface increased allyl alcohol yield and reduced the rate of catalyst deactivation. Coincidently, acrolein selectivity decreased by up to 75% following treatment with the alkali salt.Changes in the product distribution were determined to be associated with altering the acid/base properties of the catalyst, as confirmed by isopropanol dehydration/dehydrogenation, ammonia and carbon dioxide temperature programmed desorption. The treatment was also found to influence the physical properties of the catalyst surface. A correlation between acid to basic site concentration and allyl alcohol selectivity was established. A reduction in the former value results in an enhancement in the rate of allyl alcohol formation. A reaction mechanism was developed based on the effect of iron and alkali metals catalysing the conversion of glycerol into allyl alcohol. The proposed catalyst modification technique is a straightforward method, readily applicable at a larger scale due to the simplicity of the alkali inclusion and its striking influence on the reaction selectivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-128
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Catalysis B: Environmental
Issue numberJune
Early online date23 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes

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