A large-pore mesoporous tin phosphate (LPSnP-1) material has been synthesized hydrothermally by using Pluronic P123 as the structure-directing agent. The material is composed of aggregated nanoparticles of 10–15 nm in diameter and has a BET surface area of 216 m2 g−1 with an average pore diameter of 10.4 nm. This pore diameter is twice as large as that of mesoporous tin phosphate materials synthesized through the surfactant-templating pathways reported previously. LPSnP-1 shows excellent catalytic activity for the conversion of fructose, glucose, sucrose, cellobiose, and cellulose to 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) in a water/methyl isobutyl ketone biphasic solvent to give maximum yields of HMF of 77, 50, 51, 39, and 32 mol %, respectively, under microwave-assisted heating at 423 K. Under comparable reaction conditions, LPSnP-1 gives 12 % more HMF yield than a small-pore mesoporous tin phosphate catalyst that has an identical framework composition. This confirms the beneficial role of large mesopores and nanoscale particle morphology in catalytic reactions that involve bulky natural carbohydrate molecules.
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