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Chemistry. 2013 Aug 26;19(35):11725-32. doi: 10.1002/chem.201300502. Epub 2013 Jul 19.

Solvent effect and reactivity trend in the aerobic oxidation of 1,3-propanediols over gold supported on titania: NMR diffusion and relaxation studies.

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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, University of Cambridge, Pembroke Street, Cambridge CB2 3RA, UK.


In recent work, it was reported that changes in solvent composition, precisely the addition of water, significantly inhibits the catalytic activity of Au/TiO2 catalyst in the aerobic oxidation of 1,4-butanediol in methanol due to changes in diffusion and adsorption properties of the reactant. In order to understand whether the inhibition mechanism of water on diol oxidation in methanol is generally valid, the solvent effect on the aerobic catalytic oxidation of 1,3-propanediol and its two methyl-substituted homologues, 2-methyl-1,3-propanediol and 2,2-dimethyl-1,3-propanediol, over a Au/TiO2 catalyst has been studied here using conventional catalytic reaction monitoring in combination with pulsed-field gradient nuclear magnetic resonance (PFG-NMR) diffusion and NMR relaxation time measurements. Diol conversion is significantly lower when water is present in the initial diol/methanol mixture. A reactivity trend within the group of diols was also observed. Combined NMR diffusion and relaxation time measurements suggest that molecular diffusion and, in particular, the relative strength of diol adsorption, are important factors in determining the conversion. These results highlight NMR diffusion and relaxation techniques as novel, non-invasive characterisation tools for catalytic materials, which complement conventional reaction data.


NMR spectroscopy; diffusion; gold catalysis; heterogeneous catalysts; solvent effects

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