The formation of copper-based catalysts ranging from nanoparticles to isolated and dimeric Cu species supported on nanophased alumina is reported and utilised for the catalytic liquid-phase hydrogenation of furfural. The materials were synthesised via wet impregnation using various copper precursors (nitrate, acetate and sulphate) at two different loadings. A high Cu loading (5.0 wt.%) led to the formation of well-defined nanoparticles, while a lower loading (1.0 wt.%) generated a highly dispersed phase consisting mostly of atomic and dimeric Cu species dispersed on Al 2O 3. The catalytic reaction was found to be structure sensitive, promoting decarbonylation reactions with low Cu loading. Copper sulphate derived catalysts were found to severely decrease furfuryl alcohol selectivity from 94.6% to 0.8%, promoting the formation of side reactions. The sulphur-free catalysts represent a greener and more sustainable alternative to the toxic catalysts currently used in industry, operating at milder conditions of 50 °C and 1.5 bar H 2.
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- Single atom catalysts