Performant Au hydrogenation catalyst cooperated with Cu-doped Al2O3 for selective conversion of furfural to furfuryl alcohol at ambient pressure


Catalytic hydrogenation of furfural to furfuryl alcohol is an important upgrading process for valorization of biomass-derived furanyl platform molecules. However, selective hydrogenation of α,β-unsaturated aldehydes like furfural to the corresponding alcohols at ambient pressure remains challenging in sustainable chemistry. Till date heterogeneous Au hydrogenation catalyst has been scarcely reported for this reaction due to the low reactivity of Au for H2 dissociation. In this work, we showed that Au nanoparticles (loading: 0.2 wt%) with a mean size of about 3 nm supported on Cu-doped Al2O3 can efficiently hydrogenate furfural to furfuryl alcohol in liquid phase at ambient pressure. We demonstrated that doping a small of amount Cu (2 mol%) to γ-Al2O3 may modify the Lewis acidity-basicity of Al2O3 and simultaneously induce the presence of sufficient Cu+ species on surface, which facilitated the hydrogen transfer from i-PrOH to furfural. Moreover, we observed an enhanced reactivity of Au toward molecular H2 via cooperation with the Lewis acidic-basic Cu2O-Al2O3 support. Hence, 100% yield to furfuryl alcohol with a productivity of 0.98 gFA⋅h−1⋅gcat.−1 at 120 °C and 0.1 MPa H2 can be obtained. The prepared Au/Cu-Al2O3 catalyst was found reusable and was effective to the concentrated furfural solution, as well as several typical unsaturated aldehydes.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways

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