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A DFT Investigation of the Mechanism of Propene Ammoxidation over α‑Bismuth Molybdate


The mechanisms and energetics for the propene oxidation and ammoxidation occurring on the (010) surface of Bi2Mo3O12 were investigated using density functional theory (DFT). An energetically feasible sequence of elementary steps for propene oxidation to acrolein, propene ammoxidation to acrylonitrile, and acrolein ammoxidation to acrylonitrile is proposed. Consistent with experimental findings, the rate-limiting step for both propene oxidation and ammoxidation is the initial hydrogen abstraction from the methyl group of propene, which is calculated to have an apparent activation energy of 27.3 kcal/mol. The allyl species produced in this reaction is stabilized as an allyl alkoxide, which can then undergo hydrogen abstraction to form acrolein or react with ammonia adsorbed on under-coordinated surface Bi3+ cations to form allylamine. Dehydrogenation of allylamine is shown to produce acrylonitrile, whereas reaction with additional adsorbed ammonia leads to the formation of acetonitrile and hydrogen cyanide. The dehydrogenation of allyalkoxide species is found to have a significantly higher activation barrier than reaction with adsorbed ammonia, consistent with the observation that very little acrolein is produced when ammonia is present. Rapid reoxidation of the catalyst surface to release water is found to be the driving force for all reactions involving the cleavage of C-H or N-H bonds, because practically all of these steps are endothermic. (Chemical Equation Presented).

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