Palladium-tin catalysts for the direct synthesis of H2O2 with high selectivity

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Science  26 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6276, pp. 965-968
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad5705

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Direct hydrogen peroxide synthesis

Hydrogen peroxide is synthesized industrially without direct contact of hydrogen and oxygen in order to achieve high concentrations. For many applications, only dilute aqueous solutions are needed. Freakley et al. report an improvement in the direct synthesis of hydrogen peroxide over using palladium-tin alloys. This catalyst still achieves selectivities of >95%, like palladium-gold alloys, but is cheaper and can suppress reactions that decompose the product.

Science, this issue p. 965


The direct synthesis of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) from H2 and O2 represents a potentially atom-efficient alternative to the current industrial indirect process. We show that the addition of tin to palladium catalysts coupled with an appropriate heat treatment cycle switches off the sequential hydrogenation and decomposition reactions, enabling selectivities of >95% toward H2O2. This effect arises from a tin oxide surface layer that encapsulates small Pd-rich particles while leaving larger Pd-Sn alloy particles exposed. We show that this effect is a general feature for oxide-supported Pd catalysts containing an appropriate second metal oxide component, and we set out the design principles for producing high-selectivity Pd-based catalysts for direct H2O2 production that do not contain gold.

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