Exploring the acidity of a functionalized mesoporous polymer catalyst (P-SO3H) for glycerol tert-butyl ether synthesis†
Etherification of glycerol with alcohols/olefins is of great importance in the chemical processing industry for the valorization of biomass feedstocks. Herein, functionalized mesoporous polymer (divinylbenzene-co-sodium p-styrene sulfonic acid/P-SO3H) catalysts are synthesized solvothermally and characterized by different techniques to understand their physico-chemical properties. Etherification of glycerol with tert-butyl alcohol/isobutylene was studied in a high pressure stirred autoclave using the P-SO3H catalyst. The material demonstrated the complete glycerol conversion with a very high yield of the desired product. The characterization data reveal that the mesoporosity, high surface area, tunable acidity and acid strength of the material are responsible for this good catalytic activity of the material. A minimal amount of the P-SO3H catalyst is sufficient to achieve >88% yield of h-GTBEs which is the best result ever reported for the etherification of glycerol with IB. The material is efficient and resistant towards leaching of active sites. The results achieved herein presented P-SO3H as an efficient catalyst which can be used for the large scale synthesis of potential additives for diesel.