Catalytic production of 1,4-pentanediol from furfural in a fixed-bed system under mild conditions†
Furfural is one of the most important biomass-derived chemicals. Its large-scale availability calls for the exploration of new transformation methods for further valorization. Here we report on the direct, one-step conversion of furfural into 1,4-pentanediols (1,4-PeDs) using a combination of Amberlyst-15 and Ru-FeOx/AC catalysts. It is interesting to find that the introduction of a suitable amount of FeOx results in a great improvement in the dispersion of Ru and a decrease in the Lewis acidity. Both XPS and H2-TPR show that there is electron transfer from Ru to Fe, and the electronic interaction facilitates the reduction of both Ru and Fe species. When used in combination with Amberlyst-15, the Ru-6.3FeOx/AC catalyst afforded the best performance with a 1,4-PeD yield of 86%; by contrast, Ru/AC free of FeOx only gave levulinic acid as the major product, demonstrating the key role of the acid/metal balance in the one-pot conversion of furfural to 1,4-PeD. Moreover, such a dual catalyst exhibited excellent durability within 175 h time-on-stream.