The development of solid acid catalysts that contain a high density of Brønsted acid sites with suitable acidity, as well as a long lifetime, is one of great challenges for the efficient dehydration of glycerol to acrolein. Herein, we report on a mesoporous siliconiobium phosphate (NbPSi-0.5) composite, which is a promising solid Brønsted acid that is a potential candidate for such a high-performance catalyst. A variety of characterization results confirm that NbPSi-0.5 contains nearly pure Brønsted acid sites and has well-defined large mesopores. In addition, NbPSi-0.5 contains a similar amount of acid sites and exhibits weaker acidity than that of the highly acidic niobium phosphate and HZSM-5 zeolite. NbPSi-0.5 is quite stable and has a high activity for the dehydration of glycerol. The stability of NbPSi-0.5 is about three times higher than that of the reported catalyst. The significantly enhanced catalytic performance of NbPSi-0.5 can be attributed to 1) nearly pure Brønsted acidity, which suppresses side reactions that lead to coke formation; 2) a significant reduction of pore blocking due to the mesopores; and 3) a decrease in the amount and oxidation temperature of coke.
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