Porous silica have attracted significant attention in the past few decades due to their unique textural properties. They were extensively investigated for applications in catalysis, separation, environmental remediation and drug delivery. We have investigated the porous metal incorporated silica in the synthetic as well as catalytic perspectives. The synthesis of metal incorporated mesoporous silica via co-condensation such as SBA-15, KIT-5 are still challenging as it involves acidic synthetic route. Synthesis in high acidity conditions affects the incorporation of metal in silica due to high dissolution of metal precursors and breaking of metal oxygen and silica bond. The research presented here demonstrates an efficient way to incorporate metals by addition of diammonium hydrogen phosphate along with metal precursor during the synthesis. The incorporation efficiency has increased 2-3 times with this approach. Catalytic studies were performed to support our hypothesis. Such synthesized molybdenum incorporated mesoporous silica were investigated as catalyst for fast pyrolysis. When molybdenum incorporated in silica was used as catalyst for fast pyrolysis of pine, it selectively produced furans (furan, methylfuran and dimethylfuran). Furans are considered value-added chemicals and can be used as a blendstock for diesel/jet grade fuel. The catalyst was very stable to harsh pyrolysis conditions and had a longer life before deactivation when compared with traditional zeolites. Further, this catalyst did not produce aromatic hydrocarbons in significant yields unlike zeolites. The origin of the furans was determined to be biopolymer cellulose and the selectivity for furans are attributed to low catalyst acidity. The fffect of silica to alumina ratio (SAR) of β-zeolite was investigated ranging to elucidate the the relationship between the of number of acid sites on product speciation and catalyst deactivation on catalysts supplied by Johnson Matthey. The catalyst with low SAR (more acid sites) produced predominantly aromatic hydrocarbons and olefins with no detectable oxygen containing species. In contrary, the catalyst with high SAR (fewer acid sites) produced a suite of oxygenated products such as furans, phenols and cresols. The coke deposited on each catalyst and the yield of aromatic hydrocarbons were in direct proportion to the number of acid sites. When catalysts were active, the biomass selectivity towards hydrocarbons and amount of coke were constant regardless of SAR.
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