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A new catalyst for the direct hydrogenolysis of glycerin into PDO

By Tetsuo Satoh |

Professor Keiichi Tomishige and colleagues at Tohoku University (Sendai City, Japan; www.che.tohoku.ac.jp/~erec/) have developed a high-performance catalyst for synthesizing 1,3-propanediol (PDO) — a raw material for highly functional poly(trimethyleneteraphthalate) (PPT) fibers — from glycerin as starting material. The catalyst — developed under a project supported by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO, Kawasaki City, www.nedo.go.jp) — is expected to offer a commercial outlet for glycerin, a byproduct of biodiesel production. The new catalyst consists of fine (2-nm-dia.) iridium particles supported on silica, with the surface of the Ir partially covered with clusters of rhenium oxide. In laboratory trials, an aqueous solution of glycerin reacts with hydrogen over the catalyst at 120°C and 80 atm pressure to produce PDO with 67% selectivity in a single pass. A PDO yield of 38% is achieved for a glycerin conversion of 81%, which is “remarkably” higher than the 27% yield achieved by conventional catalysts, according to the researchers. The catalyst can easily be recovered and reused, without degradation, and turnover numbers of more than 500 have been observed.   Click…
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