(600br) Direct Propylene Epoxidation with Molecular Oxygen On Optically Active Copper Catalyst

Linic, S., University of Michigan

Propylene oxide (PO) is one of the most important commodity chemicals produced by the chemical industry. The current commercial methods used for the production of PO either produce large amounts environmentally unfriendly byproducts or use environmentally harmful oxidant. The development of an environmentally friendly and selective direct heterogeneous propylene epoxidation process, which uses O2 as the oxidant, represents a critical challenge for the field of heterogeneous catalysis. In this contribution, we demonstrate that copper catalyst under visible light illumination can achieve high selectivity in the direct epoxidation (using O2 as an oxidizing agent) of propylene to form propylene oxide. We also demonstrate that this copper nanostructure based catalyst exhibit higher propylene oxide selectivity when illuminated with visible light compared to pure thermal conditions (light off). Our analysis suggests that this visible light effect on the propylene oxide selectivity on copper nanostructure is due to surface plasmon induced electron mediated process.