Layered transition metal oxides have a potential as catalysts for biomass conversions, but their development necessitates a better understanding of their properties. Consequently, several layered materials such as HNbMoO6, HNbWO6, H2W2O7 and H2WO4 as well as new types of layered oxides based on Nb and W and characterized by a “stair-like” Aurivillius phases were extensively characterized notably by XRD and Raman spectroscopy. The possibility to convert the as-synthesised lithium or bismuth precursors to protonated phases was also thoroughly evaluated.
Layered oxides have the specificity to intercalate molecules within their interlayer regions, which may be a key feature to catalytic activity for reactions in the liquid phase. In order to evaluate the respective roles of intercalation and surface properties such as acidity, the materials were characterized in the liquid phase by Raman spectroscopy using organic bases such as n-alkylamines (butylamine and octylamine) and pyridine.
Intercalation with possible reagents, n-alcohols and 2,5-hexanediol, was also studied. The catalytic activity of these layered oxides was evaluated using a novel test reaction: the cyclo-dehydration of 2,5-hexanediol into 2,5-dimethyltetrahydrofuran. HNbMoO6 proved to be the most active catalyst, compared to conventional acidic catalysts or other layered materials. The acidity and intercalation ability of the various layered materials were compared to understand the differences observed for the catalytic activity.
Keywords: Layered materials, Niobium oxide, Tungsten oxide, HNbMoO6, Liquid phase, Intercalation, Acidity, Raman spectrocopy, heterogeneous catalysis, 2,5-hexanediol dehydration.