Encapsulation of CuO nanoparticles within silicalite-1 as a regenerative catalyst for transfer hydrogenation of furfural


Catalytic transfer hydrogenation (CTH) of biomass-derived furfural (FAL) to furfuryl alcohol is recognized as one of the most versatile techniques for biomass valorization. However, the irreversible sintering of metal sites under the high-temperature reaction or during the coke removal regeneration process poses a serious concern. Herein, we present a silicalite-1-confined ultrasmall CuO structure (CuO@silicalite-1) and then compared its catalytic efficiency against conventional surface-supported CuO structure (CuO/silicalite-1) toward CTF of FAL with alcohols. Characterization results revealed that CuO nanoparticles encapsulated within the silicalite-1matrix are similar to 1.3 nmin size in CuO@silicalite-1, exhibiting better dispersion as compared to that in the CuO/silicalite-1. The CuO@silicalite-1, as a result, exhibited nearly 100-fold higher Cu-mass-based activity than the CuO/silicalite-1 counterpart. More importantly, the activity of the CuO@silicalite-1 catalyst can be regenerated via facile calcination to remove the surface-bound carbon deposits, unlike the CuO/silicalite-1 that suffered severe deactivation after use and cannot be effectively regenerated.