A bifunctional cerium phosphate catalyst for chemoselective acetalization†
Acid–base solid catalysts synthesized with structurally controlled uniform active sites can lead to unique catalysis. In this study, a CePO4 catalyst was synthesized using a hydrothermal method and found to exhibit high catalytic performance for the chemoselective acetalization of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural with alcohols, in sharp contrast to other homogeneous and heterogeneous acid and/or base catalysts. In the presence of CePO4, various combinations of carbonyl compounds and alcohols are efficiently converted into the corresponding acetal derivatives in good to excellent yields. Mechanistic studies show that CePO4 most likely acts as a bifunctional catalyst through the interaction of uniform Lewis acid and weak base sites with 5-hydroxymethylfurfural and alcohol molecules, respectively, which results in high catalytic performance.