Selective Oxidation of 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural to 2,5-Diformylfuran by Visible Light-Driven Photocatalysis over In Situ Substrate-Sensitized Titania

Ayesha Khan, Michael Goepel, Adam Kubas, Dariusz Łomot, Wojciech Lisowski, Dmytro Lisovytskiy, Ariadna Nowicka, Juan Carlos Colmenares, Roger Gläser

ChemSusChem 2021, 14, 1351–1362


Reaction pathway for the photocatalytic oxidation of HMF over SGH-TiO2.Solar energy-driven processes for biomass valorization are priority for the growing industrialized society. To address this challenge, efficient visible light-active photocatalyst for the selective oxidation of biomass-derived platform chemical is highly desirable. Herein, selective oxidation of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) to 2,5-diformylfuran (DFF) was achieved by visible light-driven photocatalysis over titania. Pristine titania is photocatalytically inactive under visible light, so an unconventional approach was employed for the visible light (λ=515 nm) sensitization of titania via a formation of a visible light-absorbing complex of HMF (substrate) on the titania surface. Surface-complexation of HMF on titania mediated ligand-to-metal charge transfer (LMCT) under visible light, which efficiently catalyzed the oxidation of HMF to DFF. A high DFF selectivity of 87 % was achieved with 59 % HMF conversion after 4 h of illumination. The apparent quantum yield obtained for DFF production was calculated to be 6.3 %. It was proposed that the dissociative interaction of hydroxyl groups of HMF and the titania surface is responsible for the surface-complex formation. When the hydroxyl groups of titania were modified via surface-fluorination or calcination the oxidation of HMF was inhibited under visible light, signifying that hydroxyl groups are decisive for photocatalytic activity.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 711859.