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Issue 5, 2015
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Direct synthesis of 2-ethylhexanol via n-butanal aldol condensation–hydrogenation reaction integration over a Ni/Ce-Al2O3 bifunctional catalyst

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Abstract

Direct synthesis of 2-ethylhexanol from n-butanal via the reaction integration of n-butanal self-condensation with 2-ethyl-2-hexenal hydrogenation is of crucial interest for industrial production of 2-ethylhexanol. Furthermore, as an important and versatile chemical, n-butanol can be produced simultaneously by reaction integration. In the present work, several bifunctional catalysts based on γ-Al2O3 were prepared by the impregnation method and were characterized by means of H2-TPR, XRD, TEM and H2-TPD, and their catalytic performance for direct synthesis of 2-ethylhexanol from n-butanal was investigated. The results showed that Co/Al2O3 had a low activity for hydrogenation and Cu/Al2O3 had a high selectivity for the hydrogenation of the C[double bond, length as m-dash]O group while a Ru/Al2O3 catalyst only favored the hydrogenation of n-butanal to n-butanol. Among them, the Ni/Al2O3 catalyst showed the best catalytic performance and the yield of 2-ethylhexanol was the highest (49.4%). Ce-modified Ni/Al2O3 enhanced the competitiveness of aldol condensation versus hydrogenation of n-butanal and improved the selectivity of 2-ethylhexanol; the yield of 2-ethylhexanol rose to 57.8%. Then the influence of preparation conditions on the catalytic performance of Ni/Ce-Al2O3 was investigated and the suitable preparation conditions were obtained as follows: Ni loading = 10%, calcined at 550 °C for 5 h, and reduced at 570 °C for 4 h. The effect of reaction conditions on the integration reaction catalyzed by Ni/Ce-Al2O3 was investigated and the suitable reaction conditions were obtained as follows: weight percentage of Ni/Ce-Al2O3 = 15%, reaction temperature = 170 °C, reaction pressure = 4.0 MPa and reaction time = 8 h. Under the above reaction conditions, the yield of 2-ethylhexanol attained 66.9% and that of n-butanol was 18.9%. In addition, the components existing in the integration reaction system were identified by GC-MS analysis, and the main by-products were n-butyl butyrate, 2-ethylhexyl butyrate, n-butyric acid, etc. Based on the analysis of the reaction system, a reaction network for the direct synthesis of 2-ethylhexanol from n-butanal was proposed. Finally, an evaluation of the reusability of Ni/Ce-Al2O3 showed that the recovered Ni/Ce-Al2O3 catalyst lost its catalytic activity for the hydrogenation of the C[double bond, length as m-dash]O group. The main reason for deactivation was that Ni species were covered by the flaky boehmite γ-AlO(OH) formed from the hydration of γ-Al2O3 in the reaction process.

Graphical abstract: Direct synthesis of 2-ethylhexanol via n-butanal aldol condensation–hydrogenation reaction integration over a Ni/Ce-Al2O3 bifunctional catalyst

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Publication details

The article was received on 31 Jan 2015, accepted on 10 Mar 2015 and first published on 11 Mar 2015


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C5GC00223K
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Green Chem., 2015,17, 2959-2972

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    Direct synthesis of 2-ethylhexanol via n-butanal aldol condensation–hydrogenation reaction integration over a Ni/Ce-Al2O3 bifunctional catalyst

    N. Liang, X. Zhang, H. An, X. Zhao and Y. Wang, Green Chem., 2015, 17, 2959
    DOI: 10.1039/C5GC00223K

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