In the present work, mesoporous SBA-15 and SBA-16 were synthesised using classical methods, and their physicochemical properties were investigated by X-ray diffraction (XRD), FTIR, TEM and N2
adsorption–desorption. Rhodium (Rh, 1 wt %) was loaded on the mesoporous SBA-15 and SBA-16 by an impregnation method. The Rh surface coverage, dispersion and crystallite size were determined by room temperature H2
chemisorption on reduced samples. The catalytic activity of Rh supported on mesoporous SBA-15 and SBA-16 was evaluated for the first time in the hydrogenation of phenol in vapour phase in a temperature range between 130 and 270 °C at atmospheric pressure. The reaction over Rh/SBA-15 at 180 °C produced cyclohexanone as the major product (about 60%) along with lower amounts of cyclohexanol (about 35%) and cyclohexane (about 15%). The influences of temperature, H2
/phenol ratio, contact time and the nature of the solvent on the catalytic performance were systematically investigated. The Rh/SBA-16 system offered lower phenol conversion compared to Rh/SBA-15, but both have a very high selectivity for cyclohexanone (above 60%).
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