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Research Highlight

Harnessing Radical Chemistry for Propane Oxidative Dehydrogenation over Boron-based Catalysts

Topic: Materials

Scientific Achievement

Direct experimental evidence of gas-phase methyl radicals in propane oxidative dehydrogenation (ODHP)  combined with density functional theory (DFT) calculations uncovers the mechanism behind the exceptional selectivity to olefins over BN catalysts.

Significance and Impact

This work provides valuable insights into understanding and developing more effective boron-based catalysts for light alkane conversion.

Research Details

  • Online synchrotron vacuum ultraviolet photoionization mass spectroscopy was used to successfully detect the reactive, short-lived methyl intermediates near the surfaces of BN and BOx catalysts during ODHP.
  • Experiments and DFT calculations suggest propene formation is mainly catalyzed by the surface while gas phase radicals are partially responsible for C1 and C2 products in ODHP.
  • The dynamic evolution of BN to BOx during ODHP produces trace NO which could assist further gas phase radical chemistry for propane conversion.
Zhang, X.; You, R.; Wei, Z.; Jiang, X.; Yang, J.; Pan, Y.; Wu, P.; Jia, Q.; Bao, Z.; Bai, L.; Jin, M.; Sumpter, B.; Fung, V.; Huang, W.; Wu, Z., "Radical Chemistry and Reaction Mechanisms of Propane Oxidative Dehydrogenation over Hexagonal Boron Nitride Catalysts," Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2020, 59, 8042-8046. DOI: 10.1002/anie.202002440 (Front Cover)