TiO2 supported Ru catalysts for the hydrogenation of succinic acid: influence of the support†
Succinic acid is a valuable biomass-derived platform molecule, which can be further catalytically converted into many industrially relevant molecules such as γ-butyrolactone, 1,4-butanediol or tetrahydrofuran. The influence of the support nature on both the activity of Ru/TiO2 catalysts and the selectivity pattern in the hydrogenation of succinic acid was investigated, with focus on the metal–support interaction, the crystallographic structure of the TiO2 support and the supported Ru nanoparticle size features. We showed that the catalyst activity was related to both the Ru particle size and the metal support interaction, those features being induced by the presence of the rutile phase within the TiO2 support and by the preparation method of the supported Ru particles. The rutile phase not only favors the formation of small Ru particles but also promotes stronger metal–support interaction compared with the anatase polymorph. Strong interactions between metal and support can also be formed via thermal reduction in contrast to low-temperature direct chemical reduction. Interestingly, a low temperature solar photon-assisted synthesis method facilitates very high succinic acid conversion, by enabling the stabilization of 1.8 nm small-size Ru nanoparticles in the absence of any rutile phase within the TiO2 support.