Iron-Promotion of Silica-Supported Copper Catalysts for Furfural Hydrodeoxygenation

Research paper by Huibo Sheng, Prof. Dr. Raul F. Lobo

Indexed on: 10 Oct '16Published on: 30 Sep '16Published in: ChemCatChem


The catalytic hydrodeoxygenation of furfural is an important reaction for the production of biofuels because its product, 2-methylfuran, has excellent fuel properties: it can be added easily to the existing gasoline pool and it is renewable and, therefore, carbon neutral. The reaction network of hydrodeoxygenation is a two-step reaction from furfural to furfuryl alcohol and then to 2-methylfuran. Silica-supported Cu is a mild hydrogenation catalyst that is selective for the hydrogenation of the carbonyl group of furfural to furfuryl alcohol. We have found that Fe-containing Cu-based catalysts show much higher reactivity and very high selectivity towards 2-methylfuran (85 %+). It is of interest to understand the structural and chemical effects of the Fe promotion (0.15 % w/w) over the Cu catalyst (1 % Cu w/w) and characterize the species responsible for the high hydrogenation performance. Our investigations indicate that after the catalyst is pretreated in hydrogen, Cu is reduced fully, whereas Fe is only reduced partially (a mixture of FeIII and FeII is observed). In situ diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy suggests that FeII species are present on the catalyst surface, as indicated by the adsorption of NO.