Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, Vol.182, 142-152, 2016
Sol-gel synthesised WO3 nanoparticles supported on mesoporous silica for liquid phase nitration of aromatics
A series of WO3/SiO2 catalysts have been prepared by sol-gel method using ammonium metatungstate and ethyl silicate-40 (ES-40) as WO3 and SiO2 precursors respectively. The sol-gel method has led to the formation of WO3 nano-particles of 2-5 nm well dispersed on mesoporous silica along with some WO3' agglomerates. Formation of monoclinic WO3 was seen on the catalysts above 5 wt% WO3 loading by XRD analysis. Silica has shown very high surface area of 606 m(2)/g which decreased gradually upto 368 m(2)/g with 20 wt% WO3 loading. 20 wt% WO3/SiO2 catalyst has shown maximum acidity (0.56 mmol NH3/g) with presence of both Lewis and Bronsted acidity. UV-vis DRS analysis showed formation of polytungstate species along with WO3 on silica surface. The prepared catalysts were used for liquid phase nitration of aromatics using 70% nitric acid as nitrating agent without using any sulfuric acid. Very high conversion (99%) was obtained for p-cresol nitration with very high selectivity (99%) for 2-nitro p-cresol. The water formed during the reaction was removed azeotropically using ethylene dichloride as solvent. In case of o-xylene 74% conversion was obtained with 54% selectivity for 4-nitro o-xylene. The effect of different WO3 precursors on nitration efficiency was studied using sodium tungstate and tungstic acid as precursors. However,ammonium metatungstate showed the highest acidity. Sodium tungstate showed formation of dimer of sodium tungstate which did not show any acidity and hence no activity for nitration. The mechanism for nitration using WO3/SiO2 has been proposed based on polarisation of water on tungsten centre generating Bronsted acidity which can further generate nitronium ion giving subsequently nitration of the aromatic ring. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.