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Catalysts 2016, 6(7), 92;

Catalysts for the Selective Oxidation of Methanol

1,2,†,* , 1,2,†
Cardiff Catalysis Institute, School of Chemistry, Cardiff University, Main Building, Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3AT, UK
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK Catalysis Hub, Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH), Harwell, Oxon OX11 0FA, UK
Department of Chemistry, University College London, 20 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AJ, UK
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Keith Hohn and Stuart Taylor
Received: 1 April 2016 / Revised: 23 May 2016 / Accepted: 27 May 2016 / Published: 23 June 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catalysts for Selective Oxidation)


In industry, one of the main catalysts typically employed for the selective oxidation of methanol to formaldehyde is a multi-component oxide containing both bulk Fe2(MoO4)3 and excess MoO3. It is thought that the excess MoO3 primarily acts to replace any molybdenum lost through sublimation at elevated temperatures, therefore preventing the formation of an unselective Fe2O3 phase. With both oxide phases present however, debate has arisen regarding the active component of the catalyst. Work here highlights how catalyst surfaces are significantly different from bulk structures, a difference crucial for catalyst performance. Specifically, Mo has been isolated at the surface as the active surface species. This leaves the role of the Fe in the catalyst enigmatic, with many theories postulated for its requirement. It has been suggested that the supporting Fe molybdate phase enables lattice oxygen transfer to the surface, to help prevent the selectivity loss which would occur in the resulting oxygen deficit environment. To assess this phenomenon in further detail, anaerobic reaction with methanol has been adopted to evaluate the performance of the catalyst under reducing conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: methanol oxidation; active site; redox; formaldehyde synthesis; model catalysts; surface specificity; XAFS; iron molybdate; spectroscopy; core-shell catalysts methanol oxidation; active site; redox; formaldehyde synthesis; model catalysts; surface specificity; XAFS; iron molybdate; spectroscopy; core-shell catalysts

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Brookes, C.; Bowker, M.; Wells, P.P. Catalysts for the Selective Oxidation of Methanol. Catalysts 2016, 6, 92.

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