Vapour phase hydrogenolysis of glycerol to propanediols over Cu/SBA-15 catalysts

Mitta Harisekhar, Vanama Pavan Kumar, Samudrala Shanthi Priya, Komandur V R Chary

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BACKGROUND: Biomass-derived glycerol is emerging as a renewable, cheap and versatile feedstock for the production of a variety of chemicals and fuels. RESULTS: Cu catalysts with varying copper loadings ranging from 2.5 to 20wt% supported on SBA-15 were investigated for the vapour phase hydrogenolysis of glycerol to propanediols. The dispersion of Cu and copper metal area on mesoporous SBA-15 was determined by pulse N2O decomposition measurements. The X-ray diffraction patterns suggest that the presence of highly dispersed copper oxide species at lower Cu loadings (≤5Cu) and as crystalline CuO phase at higher Cu loadings (≥10wt% Cu). The acidity of the catalysts measured by NH3 -TPD method reveals that the acidity of the samples increases with increase of copper loading up to 5wt% and decreases at higher copper loadings. The catalytic functionalities during the vapour phase hydrogenolysis of glycerol to propanediols are correlated with the copper oxide dispersion and also with the acidic properties CONCLUSIONS: In summary, 5Cu/SBA-15 catalyst was found to consist of highly dispersed copper oxide on the support, evidenced by XRD, TPR and N2O decomposition studies. This catalyst exhibits high glycerol conversion (90%) and 84% selectivity of 1,2-propanediol. The activity results are well correlated with Cu dispersion and acidity of the catalysts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1906-1917
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Acidic properties
  • Cu/SBA-15
  • Dispersion
  • Glycerol hydrogenolysis
  • Propanediols

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