Hydrothermally stable, conformal, sulfated zirconia monolayer catalysts for glucose conversion to 5-HMF

Amin Osatiashtiani, Adam F. Lee, Marta Granollers, D. Robert Brown, Luca Olivi, Gabriel Morales, Juan A. Melero, Karen Wilson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The grafting and sulfation of zirconia conformal monolayers on SBA-15 to create mesoporous catalysts of tunable solid acid/base character is reported. Conformal zirconia and sulfated zirconia (SZ) materials exhibit both Brönsted and Lewis acidity, with the Brönsted/Lewis acid ratio increasing with film thickness and sulfate content. Grafted zirconia films also exhibit amphoteric character, whose Brönsted/Lewis acid site ratio increases with sulfate loading at the expense of base sites. Bilayer ZrO2/SBA-15 affords an ordered mesoporous material with a high acid site loading upon sulfation and excellent hydrothermal stability. Catalytic performance of SZ/SBA-15 was explored in the aqueous phase conversion of glucose to 5-HMF, delivering a 3-fold enhancement in 5-HMF productivity over nonporous SZ counterparts. The coexistence of accessible solid basic/Lewis acid and Brönsted acid sites in grafted SZ/SBA-15 promotes the respective isomerization of glucose to fructose and dehydration of reactively formed fructose to the desired 5-HMF platform chemical.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4345-4352
Number of pages8
JournalACS Catalysis
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2015

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article published under an ACS AuthorChoice License, which permits copying and redistribution of the article or any adaptations for non-commercial purposes.

Funding: European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) Grant Agreement No. 604307; EPSRC (EP/K014676/1; EP/G007594/4); Royal Society (IF100206); Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación of Spain (CTQ2011-28216); and Regional Government of Madrid (S2013-MAE-288)

Supporting information avaialble online.


  • SBA-15
  • solid base
  • hydrothermal stability
  • 5-HMF
  • solid acid
  • sulfated zirconia


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