The catalytic performance of zeolite-supported vanadia catalysts was examined for the aerobic oxidation of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) to 2,5-diformylfuran (DFF) in organic solvents such as N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF), methyl isobutyl ketone, toluene, trifluorotoluene and DMSO. Catalysts based on the four different zeolite supports H-beta, H-Y, H-mordenite, and H-ZSM-5 with 1–10 wt % vanadia loading were prepared and characterized by nitrogen physisorption, X-ray powder diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, ammonia temperature-programmed desorption, Raman spectroscopy and UV/Vis spectrophotometry. The H-beta zeolite catalysts were found to contain highly dispersed vanadium oxide species at all loadings, and provided the highest reaction selectivity towards DFF and the lowest metal leaching of the examined systems. In particular, 1 wt % V2O5/H-beta was found to be a stable, recyclable, and non-leaching catalyst for the production of DFF under mild conditions in DMF as solvent, although with low DFF yield. To increase the yield, oxidation of HMF at elevated pressures was also investigated with this catalyst. Under optimized conditions, a reaction selectivity towards DFF of >99 % at 84 % HMF conversion was obtained, albeit with some contribution from lixiviated species to the total catalyst activity.
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