(583cj) Selective Conversion of m-Cresol to Toluene Over Bimetallic Ni-Fe Catalysts | AIChE

(583cj) Selective Conversion of m-Cresol to Toluene Over Bimetallic Ni-Fe Catalysts


Resasco, D. E. - Presenter, University of Oklahoma
Nie, L., University of Oklahoma
An, W., University of Oklahoma
Sooknoi, T., University of Oklahoma

The catalytic conversion of m-cresol in the presence of H2 has been investigated on SiO2-supported Ni, Fe, and bimetallic Ni-Fe catalysts at 300°C and atmospheric pressure. Over the monometallic Ni catalyst, the dominant product is 3-methylcyclohexanone while 3-methylcyclohexanol and toluene appear in smaller amounts, even at high conversions.  By contrast, on Fe and Ni-Fe bimetallic catalysts, the dominant product is toluene while the hydrogenation products (3-methylcyclohexanone and 3-methylcyclohexanol) are practically negligible in the entire range of conversions.

To explain these differences, we have proposed a deoxygenation path that starts with the tautomerization of m-cresol to an unstable ketone intermediate (3-methyl-3,5-cyclohexadienone).  The fate of this intermediate is determined by the ability of the catalyst to either hydrogenate the carbonyl group or the ring.  The former would mostly occur on Fe and Ni-Fe catalysts, while the latter would occur on Ni. 

Hydrogenation of the carbonyl group produces a very reactive unsaturated alcohol (3-methyl-3,5-cyclohexadienol), which can be easily dehydrated to toluene.  This would explain the high selectivity of Fe and Ni-Fe to toluene.  By contrast, hydrogenation of the ring would result in 3-methylcyclohexanone, which can be further hydrogenated to 3-methylcyclohexanol.  On supports that contain sites, which are active for dehydration, the formation of toluene would occur via dehydration of the alcohol and subsequent dehydrogenation. On the catalysts investigated in this work, dehydration of the corresponding alcohol does not occur, so the only path to toluene is via hydrogenation of the carbonyl of the unstable ketone intermediate.

In addition, to the products mentioned above, xylenol is also observed in significant yields, which indicate that transalkylation of m-cresol is another reaction path occurring on these catalysts.