Alessandro Allegri, Valeriia Maslova, Magda Blosi, Anna Luisa Costa, Simona Ortelli, Francesco Basile, Stefania Albonetti
The photocatalytic oxidation of biomass-derived building blocks such as 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) is a promising reaction for obtaining valuable chemicals and the efficient long-term storage of solar radiation. In this work, we developed innovative TiO2-based materials capable of base-free HMF photo-oxidation in water using simulated solar irradiation. The materials were prepared by combining microemulsion and spray-freeze drying (SFD), resulting in highly porous systems with a large surface area. The effect of titania/silica composition and the presence of gold-copper alloy nanoparticles on the properties of materials as well as photocatalytic performance were evaluated. Among the lab-synthesized photocatalysts, Ti15Si85 SFD and Au3Cu1/Ti15Si85 SFD achieved the higher conversions, while the best selectivity was observed for Au3Cu1/Ti15Si85 SFD. The tests with radical scavengers for both TiO2-m and Au3Cu1/Ti15Si85 SFD suggested that primary species responsible for the selective photo-oxidation of HMF are photo-generated electrons and/or superoxide radicals.
5-hydroxymethyl furfural, spray-freeze drying, photocatalysis, TiO2, microemulsion