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Continuous production of propylene glycol (1,2-propanediol) by the hydrogenolysis of glycerol over a bi-functional Cu–Ru/MgO catalyst

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Abstract

A series of Cu–Ru/MgO catalysts were developed for the continuous production of propylene glycol from glycerol in a sectionally packed downflow tubular reactor in the vapor phase. Glycerol conversion and the formation of propylene glycol (1,2-propanediol) were continuously monitored at the outlet of the reactor operated under different reaction conditions. At atmospheric pressure, hydroxyacetone (acetol) was obtained as a major reaction product and at higher pressure (≥0.8 MPa), propylene glycol was found to be the main product. Among all the other catalysts, the 6Cu–4Ru/MgO catalyst demonstrated almost complete glycerol conversion (∼98%) with very high propylene glycol selectivity (∼75%) at a much lower H2/glycerol mole ratio (66.8) and reaction pressure (0.8 MPa). The superior activity of the 6Cu–4Ru/MgO catalyst was due to the copper–ruthenium synergy, highly dispersed (3.6%) Ru metal on the catalyst surface, higher BET surface area (258.6 m2 gcat.−1), and small average particle size (∼3 nm) of the catalyst. It was also perceived that ruthenium acted as a hydrogen storage material and this metal propagated hydrogen spillover to the copper metal, which significantly improved propylene glycol selectivity.

Graphical abstract: Continuous production of propylene glycol (1,2-propanediol) by the hydrogenolysis of glycerol over a bi-functional Cu–Ru/MgO catalyst

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
07 Jul 2020
Accepted
18 Sep 2020
First published
18 Sep 2020

React. Chem. Eng., 2020, Advance Article
Article type
Paper

Continuous production of propylene glycol (1,2-propanediol) by the hydrogenolysis of glycerol over a bi-functional Cu–Ru/MgO catalyst

D. K. Pandey and P. Biswas, React. Chem. Eng., 2020, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/D0RE00285B

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