Understanding the catalytic behavior of sulfated metal oxides has been the topic of several research studies in the past few decades. Their apparent super-acidic behavior has been correlated with the molecular structure of the surface sulfate species. Herein, we couple FTIR and Raman spectroscopies to study the molecular structural evolution of surface sulfate species on mixed metal hydroxides as well as calcined oxides. We show that on the surface of hydroxides, monodentate and possibly bidentate species are dominant, while for SnO2-rich samples, clusters of polymeric sulfate species may also be present. After calcination, sulfate species bind strongly on the surface of mixed oxides, and different configurations can be seen with a range of S=O functionalities of varying strength. Through comparison of the catalytic performance of all sulfate oxides in the tert-butylation of phenol, it was found that SnO2-rich samples show high TBA conversion, with monoalkylated phenols as the primary product.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Acid catalysts
- Phenol alkylation
- Sulfate species
- Temperature effect