Mesoporous sulfonic acid silicas for pyrolysis bio-oil upgrading via acetic acid esterification†
Propylsulfonic acid derivatised SBA-15 catalysts have been prepared by post modification of SBA-15 with mercaptopropyltrimethoxysilane (MPTMS) for the upgrading of a model pyrolysis bio-oil via acetic acid esterification with benzyl alcohol in toluene. Acetic acid conversion and the rate of benzyl acetate production was proportional to the PrSO3H surface coverage, reaching a maximum for a saturation adlayer. Turnover frequencies for esterification increase with sulfonic acid surface density, suggesting a cooperative effect of adjacent PrSO3H groups. Maximal acetic acid conversion was attained under acid-rich conditions with aromatic alcohols, outperforming Amberlyst or USY zeolites, with additional excellent water tolerance.