Sulfonated covalent triazine-based frameworks as catalysts for the hydrolysis of cellobiose to glucose†
Covalent triazine-based frameworks (CTFs) were synthesized in large scale from various monomers. The materials were post-synthetically modified with acid functionalities via gas-phase sulfonation. Acid capacities of up to 0.83 mmol g−1 at sulfonation degrees of up to 10.7 mol% were achieved. Sulfonated CTFs exhibit high specific surface area and porosity as well as excellent thermal stability under aerobic conditions (>300 °C). Successful functionalization was verified investigating catalytic activity in the acid-catalyzed hydrolysis of cellobiose to glucose at 150 °C in H2O. Catalytic activity is mostly affected by porosity, indicating that mesoporosity is beneficial for hydrolysis of cellobiose. Like other sulfonated materials, S-CTFs show low stability under hydrothermal reaction conditions. Recycling of the catalyst is challenging and significant amounts of sulfur leached out of the materials. Nevertheless, gas-phase sulfonation opens a path to tailored solid acids for application in various reactions. S-CTFs form the basis for multi-functional catalysts, containing basic coordination sites for metal catalysts, tunable structural parameters and surface acidity within one sole system.