Titania/chitosan-lignin nanocomposite as an efficient photocatalyst for the selective oxidation of benzyl alcohol under UV and visible light

Khan Ayesha, Goepel, Michael, Lisowski Wojciech,  Lomot Dariusz, Lisovytskiy Dmytro, Mazurkiewicz-Pawlicka Marta, Glaeser Roger,  Warczak, Magdalena,  Colmenares, Juan Carlos

RSC ADVANCES, 2021, 11:55


Developing functional materials from biomass is a significant research subject due to its unique structure, abundant availability, biodegradability and low cost. A series of chitosan-lignin (CL) composites were prepared through a hydrothermal method by varying the weight ratio of chitosan and lignin. Subsequently, these CL composites were combined with titania (T) to form a nanocomposite (T/CL) using sol-gel and hydrothermal based methods. T/CL nanocomposites exhibited improved photocatalytic performance in comparison with sol-gel and hydrothermally prepared pristine titania (SGH-TiO2), towards the selective oxidation of benzyl alcohol (BnOH) to benzaldehyde (Bnald) under UV (375 nm) and visible light (515 nm). More specifically, the 75T/CL(25 : 75) nanocomposite (a representative photocatalyst from the 75T/CL nanocomposite series) showed very high selectivity (94%) towards Bnald at 55% BnOH conversion under UV light. Whereas, SGH-TiO2 titania exhibited much lower (68%) selectivity for Bnald at similar BnOH conversion. Moreover, the 75T/CL(25 : 75) nanocomposite also showed excellent Bnald selectivity (100%) at moderate BnOH conversion (19%) under visible light. Whereas, SGH-TiO2 did not show any activity for BnOH oxidation under visible light. XPS studies suggest that the visible light activity of the 75T/CL(25 : 75) nanocomposite is possibly related to the doping of nitrogen into titania from chitosan. However, according to UV-visible-DRS results, no direct evidence pertaining to the decrease in band-gap energy of titania was found upon coupling with the CL composite and the visible light activity was attributed to N-doping of titania. Overall, it was found that T/CL nanocomposites enhanced the photocatalytic performance of titania via improved light harvesting and higher selectivity through mediation of active radical species.

Full article

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.