Modulating properties of pure ZrO2 for structure-activity relationships in acid-base catalysis: contribution of the alginate preparation route

by Elodie Wan, Arnaud Travert, Francoise Quignard, Didier Tichit, Nathalie Tanchoux and Hugo Petitjean.


Structure-activity relationships in heterogeneous catalysis demand the development of original preparation routes to create catalyst sets with extended surface properties. Pure zirconia is a bifunctional catalyst which shows a high versatility in acid-base catalysis. The present work aims to synthesize a set of zirconia catalysts with various acid-base reactivities. It proposes a new route to prepare pure zirconia using sodium alginate, a low-cost biosourced polymer. This zirconia phase is compared to samples obtained from two more conventional preparation routes, namely precipitation and sol-gel. Upon calcination (500 – 900°C), the alginate-derived zirconia maintains a high specific area, which can be explained by the high dispersion of the zirconyl species in the ionogel precursor. Moreover, the three types of catalysts have distinct acid-base properties, as shown by CO2 adsorption and catalysis (methylbutynol model reaction). The alginate-derived ZrO2 has a higher and more stable amphoteric reactivity than the phases obtained by precipitation and sol-gel, which can be rationalized by a higher level of Lewis acid-base pairs.

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