Catalysis Letters

, Volume 103, Issue 1, pp 43-52

First online:

Solvent-free Oxidation of Primary Alcohols to Aldehydes using Supported Gold Catalysts

  • Dan I. EnacheAffiliated withSchool of Chemistry, Cardiff University
  • , David W. KnightAffiliated withSchool of Chemistry, Cardiff University
  • , Graham J. HutchingsAffiliated withSchool of Chemistry, Cardiff University Email author 

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Supported Au catalysts are investigated for the oxidation of primary alcohols under solvent-free conditions in the absence of base. Three representative primary alcohols have been investigated: benzyl alcohol, octan-1-ol and geraniol using a range of supports for gold nanocrystals prepared using coprecipitation, deposition precipitation and impregnation. For benzyl alcohol and octan-1-ol selective oxidation to the corresponding aldehydes is observed, particularly with Au/CeO2, whereas for more acidic supports, e.g. Fe2O3, subsequent oxidation of the aldehydes to the corresponding acids, forming an ester (benzyl benzoate, octyl octanoate, respectively) by reaction with the alcohol, by a standard acid-catalysed mechanism. Alternatively, the mechanism of ester generation could involve hemiacetal formation between the aldehyde and residual alcohol, followed by direct oxidation to the observed ester. The reaction of geraniol is much more complex and the reaction is carried out in the presence and absence of acids to gain a full understanding of the interplay between oxidation and isomerisation reactions. Comparison with other active catalysts reveals that using Au catalysts in solvent free conditions gives very high turnover frequencies for the synthesis of the aldehydes with 100% selectivity (150 h−1 and 26 h−1 for benzyl alcohol and octan-1-ol, respectively), which are comparable to the best reported to date for these reactions.


solvent free oxidation supppported gold catalysts