Selectivity Control in the Tandem Aromatization of Bio-Based Furanics Catalyzed by Solid Acids and Palladium

Homer C. Genuino, Shanmugam Thiyagarajan, Jan C. van der Waal, Ed de Jong*, Jacco van Haveren, Daan S. van Es, Bert M. Weckhuysen, Pieter C.A. Bruijnincx

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Bio-based furanics can be aromatized efficiently by sequential Diels–Alder (DA) addition and hydrogenation steps followed by tandem catalytic aromatization. With a combination of zeolite H-Y and Pd/C, the hydrogenated DA adduct of 2-methylfuran and maleic anhydride can thus be aromatized in the liquid phase and, to a certain extent, decarboxylated to give high yields of the aromatic products 3-methylphthalic anhydride and o- and m-toluic acid. Here, it is shown that a variation in the acidity and textural properties of the solid acid as well as bifunctionality offers a handle on selectivity toward aromatic products. The zeolite component was found to dominate selectivity. Indeed, a linear correlation is found between 3-methylphthalic anhydride yield and the product of (strong acid/total acidity) and mesopore volume of H-Y, highlighting the need for balanced catalyst acidity and porosity. The efficient coupling of the dehydration and dehydrogenation steps by varying the zeolite-to-Pd/C ratio allowed the competitive decarboxylation reaction to be effectively suppressed, which led to an improved 3-methylphthalic anhydride/total aromatics selectivity ratio of 80 % (89 % total aromatics yield). The incorporation of Pd nanoparticles in close proximity to the acid sites in bifunctional Pd/H-Y catalysts also afforded a flexible means to control aromatic products selectivity, as further demonstrated in the aromatization of hydrogenated DA adducts from other diene/dienophile combinations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-286
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • acidity
  • biomass
  • hydrogenation
  • palladium
  • zeolites

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