(655b) The Role of Copper Stability in Selectively Condensation of Ethanol to Higher Alcohols

Authors: 
Guo, M., Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Ramasamy, K. K., Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
The recent emergence of a strong bioethanol industry has elevated interest towards its use as a sustainable platform molecule towards producing high valued chemicals; one such process is the selective conversion of ethanol into high value C4+ alcohols. This multistep reaction involving acid-base catalyzed condensation and hydrogen transfer tends to yield a complex mixture of side products such ethers, esters, and ketones that prevent efficient conversion. Our work has demonstrated 80% selectivity to higher alcohols with conversion above on MgAl hydrotalcite catalysts at low copper loadings, with stable catalyst lifetimes over 100 hours in a flow through-reactor setup. Lower concentrations of copper was shown to prevent the formation of ester and ketone side products without reducing the conversion of ethanol. Characterization of the catalyst by STEM and XAS EXAFS work reveal that this is largely due to high dispersion of copper at lower copper loadings with near absence of copper clustering, even under high temperatures and reductive conditions. Further in operando XANES and EXAFS study shows that copper only reduces partially to Cu­+1 Cu0 under reaction conditions for the best performing catalysts. The substitution of copper into the hydrotalcite support matrix allow for the production of dispersed Cu+1 sites, which promotes the efficient catalytic reaction to higher alcohols while not contributing to side reaction pathways such as esterification and C-C scission. The dispersion and stability of these individual copper promoters is critical to the high efficiency of this reaction. This work will discuss the limiting copper movement within the support to lengthen the lifetime of catalyst activity as well as throughout multiple regeneration cycles.