Catalyst characterization in the presence of solvent: development of liquid phase structure–activity relationships
Due to the low volatility and highly oxygenated nature of biomass derived feedstocks, biomass upgrade reactions are frequently conducted in the presence of solvent to improve substrate mass transfer to the catalyst surface. However, relevant catalyst characterization techniques are most often performed in vacuum or inert gas environments, where the effect of solvent on the catalytic sites is ignored. Comparatively, characterization techniques in the presence of solvent are relatively rare, which poses challenges in developing structure–activity relationships for liquid phase reactions. In this perspective, commonly utilized techniques for probing the solid–liquid interface are briefly covered, with a focus on the role of solvent on zeolite and solid acid catalysis. New applications of techniques are proposed, most notably with ATR-FTIR, in the context of extracting thermodynamic information for the further understanding of the role of solvent on broadly applicable catalyst properties, such as acidity, and to develop structure–activity relationships for solid catalysts in solvent.