Non-hydrolytic sol–gel routes to heterogeneous catalysts
Oxides and mixed oxides have a tremendous importance in the field of heterogeneous catalysis, serving either as catalysts or as supports for active species. The performance of a catalyst depends directly on its composition, texture, structure and surface properties, which have to be precisely controlled and adapted to each application. In this context, the sol–gel process is a unique tool for the preparation and understanding of catalytic materials, owing to its exceptional versatility. In the last 10 years, the non-hydrolytic sol–gel (NHSG) or non-aqueous sol–gel process based on nonhydrolytic condensations in nonaqueous media has established itself as a simple and powerful method for the design of a wide range of oxide, mixed oxide and hybrid materials with controlled composition, morphology, texture and structure. NHSG proved particularly interesting for the preparation of catalytic materials, notably mesoporous xerogels, single site catalysts and highly crystalline nanoparticles. This critical review addresses the application of NHSG to the preparation of heterogeneous catalysts, emphasizing the specificities of this process, and giving a comprehensive overview of the literature (251 references).