Ketonization of valeric acid, which can be obtained by lignocellulosic biomass conversion, was carried out in a fixed bed flow reactor over ZrO2, 5–20 % CeO2/ZrO2 and CeO2 both under hydrogen and nitrogen stream at 628 K and atmospheric pressure. Regardless gas-carrier 10 wt% CeO2/ZrO2 was found to show higher catalytic activity compared to zirconia per se as well as other ceria modified zirconia while ceria per se exhibited very low catalytic activity. All catalysts provided higher acid conversion in H2 than in N2 whereas selectivity to 5-nonanone was insensitive to gas atmosphere. XRD, FTIR, UV–Vis DRS, XPS, HRTEM methods were applied to characterize catalysts in reduced and unreduced states simulating corresponding reaction conditions during acid ketonization. XRD did not reveal any changes in zirconia and ceria/zirconia lattice parameters as well as crystalline phase depending on gas atmosphere while insertion of ceria in zirconia caused notable increase in lattice parameter indicating some distortion of crystalline structure. According to XPS, FTIR and UV–Vis methods, the carrier gas was found to affect catalyst surface composition leading to alteration in Lewis acid sites ratio. Appearance of Zr3+ cations was observed on the ZrO2 surface after hydrogen pretreatment whereas only Zr4+ cations were determined using nitrogen as a gas-carrier. These changes of catalyst’s surface cation composition affected corresponding activity in ketonization probably being crucial for reaction mechanism involving metal cations catalytic centers for acid adsorption and COO− stabilization at the initial step.
CeriaZirconiaKetonizationEffect of gas atmosphereValeric acidBiomass processing