Synergy of electronic and steric effects of Br-Ni catalysts for selective hydrogenolysis of diphenyl ether to phenol

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  • Xiaomeng Yang
  • Zhen Zhang
  • Puhua Shao
  • Dan Wu
  • Jianshe Wang
  • Yongsheng Zhang

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Original languageEnglish
Article number146144
Journal / PublicationChemical Engineering Journal
Online published18 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023


Selective hydrogenolysis of 4-O-5 bond in lignin under relatively mild conditions is an important strategy for the production of valuable aromatic products, e.g. phenols, from renewable carbon resources. However, the easy saturation of benzene rings under reductive conditions over metal catalyst reduces the selectivity to aromatics. In this work, we investigated the effect of bromination of supported Ni nanoparticles on the phenol selectivity during the hydrogenolysis of diphenyl ether (DPE), a commonly used lignin model compound. Compared with the unmodified catalysts, Br-Ni/Al2O3 catalyst derived from Ni-Al layered double oxides exhibits enhanced phenol selectivity (37% vs. 15%) under similar DPE conversions (60%). Various characterizations including transmission electron microscopy (TEM), in-situ X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS), and CO-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) indicate that Br preferentially located at the terrace site of Ni nanoparticles, deactivating the continuous Ni sites for benzene ring hydrogenation. In addition, the electron-withdrawing effect of Br creates positively charged Ni sites at the corners, facilitating the hydrogenolysis of C–O aryl ether bonds. During the hydrogenation of real lignin, the selective poisoning and electronic effects introduced by Br synergistically increased the yield of phenols from 12.20% on the initial Ni/Al2O3 to 30.47% over the Br-Ni/Al2O3 catalyst. This work provides an advanced strategy for the catalytic valorization of lignin by halogen modified metal-based catalysts. © 2023

Research Area(s)

  • Br-modified Ni/Al2O3, Diphenyl ether, Hydrogenolysis, Lignin depolymerization, Phenol

Citation Format(s)