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Molecular orientations change reaction kinetics and mechanism: A review on catalytic alcohol oxidation in gas phase and liquid phase on size-controlled Pt nanoparticles


Catalytic oxidation of alcohols is an essential process for energy conversion, production of fine chemicals and pharmaceutical intermediates. Although it has been broadly utilized in industry, the basic understanding for catalytic alcohol oxidations at a molecular level, especially under both gas and liquid phases, is still lacking. In this paper, we systematically summarized our work on catalytic alcohol oxidation over size-controlled Pt nanoparticles. The studied alcohols included methanol, ethanol, 1-propanol, 2-propanol, and 2-butanol. The turnover rates of different alcohols on Pt nanoparticles and also the apparent activation energy in gas and liquid phase reactions were compared. The Pt nanoparticle size dependence of reaction rates and product selectivity was also carefully examined. Water showed very distinct effects for gas and liquid phase alcohol oxidations, either as an inhibitor or as a promoter depending on alcohol type and reaction phase. A deep understanding of different alcohol molecular orientations on Pt surface in gas and liquid phase reactions was established using sum-frequency generation spectroscopy analysis for in situ alcohol oxidations, as well as density functional theory calculation. This approach can not only explain the entirely different behaviors of alcohol oxidations in gas and liquid phases, but can also provide guidance for future catalyst/process design.

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