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Supported Nano-Gold Catalysts for Epoxidation of Styrene and Oxidation of Benzyl Alcohol to Benzaldehyde

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Nano-gold particles supported on different alkaline earth oxides (viz. MgO, CaO, BaO and SrO), Gr. IIIa metal oxides (viz. Al2O3, Ga2O3, In2O3 and Tl2O3), transition metal oxides (viz. TiO2, Cr2O3, MnO2, Fe2O3, CoOx, NiO, CuO, ZnO, Y2O3 and ZrO2), rare earth metal oxides (viz. La2O3, Ce2O3, Nd2O3, Sm2O3, Eu2O3, Tb2O3, Er2O3 and Yb2O3) and U3O8 [all prepared by depositing gold on corresponding metal oxide support by deposition precipitation (DP) and/or homogeneous deposition precipitation (HDP) method] were evaluated for their catalytic performance in the liquid phase epoxidation of styrene by tert-butyl hydroperoxide (TBHP) to styrene oxide and also in the solvent-free benzyl alcohol-to-benzaldehyde oxidation (by molecular oxygen or TBHP) reactions. For the epoxidation, the catalytic performance (styrene oxide yield) of the most promising nano-gold catalysts prepared by the HDP method was in the following order: Au/MgO > Au/Tl2O3 > Au/Yb2O3 > Au/Tb2O3 > Au/CaO (or TiO2). However, for the oxidation of benzyl alcohol to benzaldehyde by molecular oxygen, the order of choice for the most promising catalysts (based on benzaldehyde yield) was Au/U3O8 > Au/Al2O3 > Au/ZrO2 > Au/MgO. Whereas, when TBHP was used as an oxidizing agent for the benzyl alcohol oxidation, the order of choice for the most promising catalysts was Au/U3O8 > Au/MgO > Au/TiO2 > Au/ZrO2 > Au/Al2O3. The catalytic performance of a particular supported nano-gold catalyst was thus found to depend on the reaction catalysed by them. Moreover, it is strongly influenced by a number of catalyst parameters, such as the metal oxide support, the method of gold depositon on the support, the gold loading and also on the catalyst calcination temperature. Nano-gold particles-support interactions seem to play an important role in controlling the deposition of gold (amount of gold deposited and size and morphology of gold particles), formation of different surface gold species (Au0, Au1+ and Au3+) and electronic properties of gold particles and, consequently, control the catalytic performance (both the activity and selectivity) of the supported nano-gold catalysts in the reactions. The nano-gold catalysts prepared by the HDP method showed much better catalytic performance than those prepared by the DP, coprecipitation or impregnation method; in general, the HDP method provided supported gold catalysts with much higher gold loading and/or smaller size gold particles than that achieved by the DP and other methods.

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VRC is grateful to the National Academy of Sciences, India for the NASI Senior Scientist position.

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Correspondence to Vasant R. Choudhary.

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Choudhary, V.R., Dumbre, D.K. Supported Nano-Gold Catalysts for Epoxidation of Styrene and Oxidation of Benzyl Alcohol to Benzaldehyde. Top Catal 52, 1677–1687 (2009).

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  • Epoxidation
  • Styrene
  • Styrene oxide
  • Oxidation
  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Benzaldehyde
  • Nano-gold catalysts
  • Metal oxide supports