Switching Off Hydrogen Peroxide Hydrogenation in the Direct Synthesis Process

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Science  20 Feb 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5917, pp. 1037-1041
DOI: 10.1126/science.1168980

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Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is an important disinfectant and bleach and is currently manufactured from an indirect process involving sequential hydrogenation/oxidation of anthaquinones. However, a direct process in which H2 and O2 are reacted would be preferable. Unfortunately, catalysts for the direct synthesis of H2O2 are also effective for its subsequent decomposition, and this has limited their development. We show that acid pretreatment of a carbon support for gold-palladium alloy catalysts switches off the decomposition of H2O2. This treatment decreases the size of the alloy nanoparticles, and these smaller nanoparticles presumably decorate and inhibit the sites for the decomposition reaction. Hence, when used in the direct synthesis of H2O2, the acid-pretreated catalysts give high yields of H2O2 with hydrogen selectivities greater than 95%.

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