Effects of the preparation method on the performance of the Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 catalyst for the manufacture of l-phenylalaninol with high ee selectivity from l-phenylalanine methyl ester
The effects of the preparation method on the properties of Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 catalysts for L-phenylalanine methyl ester hydrogenation to L-phenylalaninol were investigated in detail, including the precipitation method and conditions (the aging time, calcination temperature and so on), with the help of ICP-OES, N2 and N2O adsorption, XRD, H2-TPR and TEM techniques. The results show that physicochemical properties of the catalysts are greatly affected by the preparation method and conditions. The uniform size distribution of CuO species can be obtained by fractional co-precipitation. The appropriate aging time is 2 h, and the catalyst aged for 2 h has the largest metallic copper surface area (SCu) and surface copper amount and the smallest CuO crystallites. The lower calcination temperature is favorable for increasing the surface area and metallic copper surface area of the catalyst. The spinel structure CuAl2O4 phase can form after calcination at 550 °C. The turnover frequency (TOF) values of L-phenylalaninol formed using different catalysts indicate the structurally sensitive character of the title reaction, and SCu is not the sole cause affecting the catalytic activities of the catalysts. B-TOF on the basis of the active sites (Cu0) in the boundary between CuO and ZnO or Al2O3 was proposed; the relationships of B-TOF with dCuO (particle size of CuO) and SCu were established. Using the Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 catalyst prepared by fractional co-precipitation with aging at 70 °C for 2 h and calcination at 450 °C for 4 h, 83.6% selectivity to L-phenylalaninol without racemization was achieved.