Deoxydehydration of Phenylethane-1,2-diol by Silica-Supported VO(acac)

Biomass is currently being researched as an alternative to fossil fuels because it does not have a finite supply. Biomass refers to organic matter such as wood, agricultural products, solid waste and natural gas that all contain precursors to high energy molecules. A challenge in using biomass as a fuel is that large numbers of oxygen atoms must be removed to increase the overall energy density. Deoxydehydration (DODH) is the name of the process that converts vicinal diols into alkenes. When DODH reactions are catalyzed, the reactions may be carried out in the presence of a metal oxide catalyst and reductant. In the current work, a vanadium complex was synthesized and adsorbed onto a silica support in order to form a heterogeneous catalyst. Several vanadium to silica ratios were synthesized and tested for DODH catalysis. Initial studies investigated conversion of styrene glycol into styrene. Catalysts synthesized at higher temperatures with higher vanadium:silica ratios were more effective for converting styrene glycol into styrene. Properties of supported catalysts are not fully understood and supported catalysts have not been widely studied for DODH reactions. This experiment demonstrates that supported catalysts are effective catalysts for DODH reactions. Extensions of the work will tailor catalysts for higher product yields and direct biomass conversion.