Highly Efficient Direct Aerobic Oxidative Esterification of Cinnamyl Alcohol with Alkyl Alcohols Catalysed by Gold Nanoparticles Incarcerated in a Nanoporous Polymer Matrix: A Tool for Investigating the Role of the Polymer Host

Authors

  • Dr. Antonio Buonerba,

    1. Dipartimento di Chimica e Biologia and NANOMATES Research Centre for NANOMAterials and nanoTEchnology at Salerno University, Università degli Studi di Salerno, Via Giovanni Paolo II, 84084 Fisciano (SA) (Italy), Fax: (+39) 089969824
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  • Dr. Annarita Noschese,

    1. Dipartimento di Chimica e Biologia and NANOMATES Research Centre for NANOMAterials and nanoTEchnology at Salerno University, Università degli Studi di Salerno, Via Giovanni Paolo II, 84084 Fisciano (SA) (Italy), Fax: (+39) 089969824
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  • Prof. Alfonso Grassi

    Corresponding author
    1. Dipartimento di Chimica e Biologia and NANOMATES Research Centre for NANOMAterials and nanoTEchnology at Salerno University, Università degli Studi di Salerno, Via Giovanni Paolo II, 84084 Fisciano (SA) (Italy), Fax: (+39) 089969824
    • Dipartimento di Chimica e Biologia and NANOMATES Research Centre for NANOMAterials and nanoTEchnology at Salerno University, Università degli Studi di Salerno, Via Giovanni Paolo II, 84084 Fisciano (SA) (Italy), Fax: (+39) 089969824

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Abstract

The selective aerobic oxidation of cinnamyl alcohol to cinnamaldehyde, as well as direct oxidative esterification of this alcohol with primary and secondary aliphatic alcohols, were achieved with high chemoselectivity by using gold nanoparticles supported in a nanoporous semicrystalline multi-block copolymer matrix, which consisted of syndiotactic polystyrene-co-cis-1,4-polybutadiene. The cascade reaction that leads to the alkyl cinnamates occurs through two oxidation steps: the selective oxidation of cinnamyl alcohol to cinnamaldehyde, followed by oxidation of the hemiacetal that results from the base-catalysed reaction of cinnamaldehyde with an aliphatic alcohol. The rate constants for the two steps were evaluated in the temperature range 10–45 °C. The cinnamyl alcohol oxidation is faster than the oxidative esterification of cinnamaldehyde with methanol, ethanol, 2-propanol, 1-butanol, 1-hexanol or 1-octanol. The rate constants of the latter reaction are pseudo-zero order with respect to the aliphatic alcohol and decrease as the bulkiness of the alcohol is increased. The activation energy (Ea) for the two oxidation steps was calculated for esterification of cinnamyl alcohol with 1-butanol (Ea=57.8±11.5 and 62.7±16.7 kJ mol−1 for the first and second step, respectively). The oxidative esterification of cinnamyl alcohol with 2-phenylethanol follows pseudo-first-order kinetics with respect to 2-phenylethanol and is faster than observed for other alcohols because of fast diffusion of the aromatic alcohol in the crystalline phase of the support. The kinetic investigation allowed us to assess the role of the polymer support in the determination of both high activity and selectivity in the title reaction.

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