Applied Catalysis A: General, Vol.576, 47-53, 2019
The kinetics of glycerol hydrodeoxygenation to 1,2-propanediol over Cu/ZrO2 in the aqueous phase
The kinetics of glycerol hydrodeoxygenation to 1,2-propanediol via the selective cleavage of the primary C-O bond was systematically studied in the aqueous phase over a co-precipitated Cu/ZrO2 catalyst. Unsupported pure metallic Cu was used as reference catalyst. Batch experiments were performed in an autoclave by varying the reaction temperature (175-225 degrees C), H-2 partial pressure (25-35 bar) and initial glycerol concentration (2-8 wt%). The Cu/ZrO2 catalyst was found to be highly selective to 1,2propanediol (up to 95%), and ethylene glycol was obtained as major by-product from parallel C-C bond hydrogenolysis. The apparent activation energies amounting to 106 and 105 kJ mol(-1) for Cu/ZrO2 and pure metallic Cu, respectively, of the hydrodeoxygenation pathway provide further evidence for metallic Cu acting as the active site. Kinetic analysis of the rate of glycerol consumption yielded a zero-order dependence on the concentration of glycerol suggesting an essentially almost full coverage of adsorbed glycerol as most strongly bound organic adsorbate. In contrast, a first-order dependence on hydrogen concentration was observed. Hydrogen is assumed to be not only required for the fast hydrogenation of the intermediate acetol, but also for the removal of adsorbed atomic oxygen originating from water dissociation to create empty sites for dissociative glycerol adsorption. Thus, the active Cu sites are assumed to be fully adsorbate-covered under reaction conditions.