, Volume 44, Issue 1-2, pp 285-292

Gold catalysed selective oxidation of alcohols in supercritical carbon dioxide

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The oxidation of benzyl alcohol to benzaldehyde over different supported gold catalysts in supercritical carbon dioxide has been investigated in a high-pressure batch reactor. Only molecular oxygen was used as oxidant and no base was needed. Different supports and preparation methods for the catalysts were tested and parameters like reaction temperature, pressure and molar ratios of the components were varied to study the catalytic behaviour. Gold colloids deposited on a titania support (1%Au/TiO2) yielded a conversion of 16.0% after 3 h and a high selectivity to benzaldehyde of 99% under single-phase conditions. The reaction rate was significantly higher than in a corresponding “solvent-free” reaction without CO2. Even higher rates were found when a CO2-expanded phase was present. Monitoring of the oxidation in a high-pressure view cell via infrared transmission spectroscopy unravelled a slowdown of the reaction rate above 15% conversion. In addition, 1-octanol and geraniol were oxidised as well under similar conditions, yielding conversions of 4% and 10%, respectively, with selectivities towards octanal and geranial of 90% and 30%. Thus, the combined application of gold-based catalysts and supercritical CO2 offers an interesting alternative to the known methods of alcohol oxidation.