Non-Hydrolytic Sol-Gel Route to a Family of Hybrid Mesoporous Aluminosilicate Ethanol Dehydration Catalysts

17 December 2020, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Organic-inorganic hybrid materials are nowadays intensely studied for potential applications in heterogeneous catalysis because their properties and catalytic behavior differ from pristine inorganic counterparts. The organic groups at the catalyst surface can modify not only its hydrophilicity, but also acidity, hydrothermal stability, porosity, etc. In some cases, such properties alteration leads to improved catalytic performance in terms of activity, selectivity, or stability. However, the choice of organic groups stays relatively narrow, as most reports focus on pendant methyl groups. Here, a series of mesoporous hybrid aluminosilicate materials containing various organic groups was prepared in one pot by non-hydrolytic sol-gel (NHSG). Both aromatic and aliphatic, pendant and bridging organic groups were incorporated. The presence of the organic groups in the bulk and at the outermost surface of the materials was verified by solid-state NMR and ToF-SIMS, respectively. Aluminum is mostly incorporated in tetrahedral coordination in the hybrid silica matrix. The organically modified mesoporous aluminosilicate samples were tested as catalysts in the gas phase ethanol dehydration (which relies on solid acids) and most of them outperformed the purely inorganic catalyst benchmark. While a direct influence of surface hydrophilicity or hydrophobicity (as probed by water sorption and water contact angle measurements) appeared unlikely, characterization of acidity (IR-pyridine) revealed that the improved performance for hybrid catalysts can be correlated with a modification of the acidic properties. In turn, acidity is determined by the quality of the dispersion of Al centers in the form of isolated sites in the hybrid silica matrix. All in all, this study establishes a "ranking" for a variety of organic groups in terms of their effect on gas-phase ethanol dehydration to ethylene; ethylene yield decreases in this order: bridging xylylene ≈ pendant methyl > pendant benzyl > bridging methylene ≈ inorganic benchmark (no organic groups) > bridging ethylene.


hybrid aluminosilicate
ethanol dehydration
non-hydrolytic sol-gel
water sorption isotherms
contact angle

Supplementary materials

Styskalik Debecker - family of hybrid mesoporous aluminosilicate - GA
Styskalik Debecker - family of hybrid mesoporous aluminosilicate - ESI


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