Bulk and composite catalysts combining BEA topology and mesoporosity for the valorisation of furfural†
The sustainable conversion of biomass and biomass-derived platform chemicals demands efficient catalytic processes for which modified versions of zeolites can be strategically important. The catalytic potential of bulk and composite catalysts which simultaneously feature zeolite crystallinity, mesoporosity and Zr and Al sites were explored for the valorisation of furfural (Fur; industrially produced from hemicelluloses) via integrated reduction and acid reactions in alcohol media, to give useful bio-products (bioP), namely, furanic ethers, levulinate esters and angelica lactones. Different synthetic strategies were used starting from zeolite microcrystals or nanocrystals. A composite consisting of nanocrystals of Zr,Al-Beta embedded in a mesoporous matrix is reported for the first time. In a different synthesis approach, a bulk mesoporous zeotype material was prepared by post-synthesis alkaline/acid/impregnation treatments, and explored for the first time as a catalyst for a one-pot reduction/acid reaction system. Characterisation studies of the morphology, structure, texture and nature of the Al and Zr sites (27Al MAS NMR spectroscopy, FT-IR spectroscopy of adsorbed pyridine or deuterated acetonitrile) helped understand the influence of material properties on catalytic performance. These types of materials are active and stable catalysts for the integrated conversion of Fur to bioP.