Design of Lewis-acid centres in zeolitic matrices for the conversion of renewables
The catalytic conversion of renewable feedstocks into chemicals is pursued as a means to sustainably fulfil future societal needs. Due to the oxygen-rich nature of bio-derived substrates, isomerisation, transfer-hydrogenation and retro-aldol reactions have emerged as relevant transformations to produce commodity chemicals and polymer building blocks. In this context, porous materials containing Lewis-acid metals (e.g., Al, Ga, Sn, Ti, Zr) play an important role. Among these, tin-containing zeolites have demonstrated superior catalytic properties which have mainly been attributed to their hydrophobicity and crystallinity. This review evaluates the versatility and the scalability of bottom-up and top-down approaches to introduce Lewis-acid functionalities in zeolitic matrices. A precise characterisation is shown to be crucial to determine the structure, acidity and environment of the sites introduced. In this regard, we highlight the limitations of conventional techniques and the advantages of analytical and modelling tools recently applied to gain an improved understanding of these solids. Thereafter, property–performance relations and important aspects for the industrial amenability of new synthetic routes are exemplified through case studies. Finally, we put forward the need for gathering deeper knowledge of the site location, surface properties and stability to aid the design of next-generation Lewis-acid catalysts.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Recent Advances in Zeolite Chemistry and Catalysis