Enhanced catalytic performance in dehydration of sorbitol to isosorbide over a superhydrophobic mesoporous acid catalyst
•A solid acid (P-SO3H) was synthesized from solvothermal co-polymerization.•The P-SO3H is porous and superhydrophobic.•The P-SO3H is an efficient and stable catalyst for sorbitol dehydration.•The enhanced performance on P-SO3H is mainly assigned to its superhydrophobicity.
A superhydrophobic mesoporous polymer-based acid catalyst (P-SO3H) was synthesized from solvothermal co-polymerization. The N2 sorption isotherms indicate the rich porosity of P-SO3H, confirmed by the TEM image. The IR spectra indicate the presence of sulfonic acid groups. Interestingly, P-SO3H gives contact angle of water droplet on the sample surface at 154°, suggesting its superhydrophobicity. More importantly, P-SO3H is highly efficient catalyst for dehydration of sorbitol to isosorbide, giving sorbitol conversion higher than 99.0% and isosorbide yield at 87.9%. In addition, P-SO3H exhibits excellent recyclability. After recycles for 5 times, the isosorbide yield is still 77.7%. In contrast, conventional acid catalyst of Amberlyst-15 shows the yield at only 15.4% after recycles for 3 times. The unique catalytic properties are reasonably related to the superhydrophobicity and porosity of P-SO3H. The sample large porosity offers a high degree of the exposed acidic sites to the reactants, and the sample superhydrophobicity would keep the water formed in the dehydration away from the catalyst, promoting the reaction equilibrium. As a result, the catalytic performance in dehydration of sorbitol to isosorbide over the superhydrophobic P-SO3H catalyst is significantly enhanced, compared with conventional acid catalyst of Amberlyst-15.
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Journal: Catalysis Today - Volume 242, Part B, 15 March 2015, Pages 249–254