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Experimental and theoretical study of n -butanal self-condensation over ti species supported on silica

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The effects of the coordination environment and connectivity of Ti on the rate of n-butanal self-condensation over Ti-silica catalysts were investigated. Ti was introduced in two ways, either during the synthesis of mesoporous SBA-15 or via grafting onto amorphous silica with a disordered pore structure. The connectivity of Ti was then characterized by XANES, UV-vis, and Raman spectroscopy. For the lowest Ti loadings, the Ti is found to be predominantly in isolated monomeric species, irrespective of the manner of sample preparation, and as the Ti loading is increased, a progressively larger fraction of Ti is present in oligomeric species and anatase nanoparticles. The turnover frequency for butanal condensation decreased monotonically with increasing Ti loading, and the apparent activation energy increased from 60 kJ mol-1 for monomeric species to 120 kJ mol-1 for oligomeric species. A kinetic H/D isotope effect was observed over isolated titanol and Ti dimer catalysts suggesting that α-H abstraction is the rate-determining step. This conclusion is supported by theoretical analysis of the reaction mechanism. In agreement with experimental results, the calculated activation barrier for alkanal condensation over a Ti dimer is roughly two times greater than that over Ti-OH sites. The cause for this difference was explained by energy decomposition analysis of the enolate formation step which showed that there is a large energetic penalty for the substrate to distort over the Ti-O-Ti dimer than the Ti-OH monomer.

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