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Conversion of actual flue gas CO2 via cycloaddition to propylene oxide catalyzed by a single-site, recyclable zirconium catalyst


A reusable zirconium-based catalyst for the cycloaddition of CO2 to propylene oxide (PO) was prepared by the surface organometallic chemistry (SOMC) methodology. Accordingly, well-defined amounts of the ZrCl4·(OEt2)2 precursor were grafted on the surface of silica dehydroxylated at 700 °C (SiO2-700) and at 200 °C (SiO2-200) in order to afford surface coordination compounds with different podality and chemical environment. The identity of the surface complexes was thoroughly investigated by FT-IR, elemental microanalysis and solid state NMR and applied as a recoverable and reusable heterogeneous catalyst for the title reaction using pure CO2 and flue gas samples from a cement factory. The observed catalytic activity for the isolated zirconium complexes is rationalized by means of systematic DFT calculations.