Alkenols are commercially important chemicals employed in the pharmaceutical and agro-food industries. The conventional production route via liquid phase (batch) alkynol hydrogenation suffers from the requirement for separation/purification unit operations to extract the target product. We have examined, for the first time, the continuous gas phase hydrogenation (P
= 1 atm; T
= 373 K) of primary (3-butyn-1-ol), secondary (3-butyn-2-ol) and tertiary (2-methyl-3-butyn-2-ol) C4
alkynols using a 1.2% wt. Pd/Al2
-TPR, the catalyst exhibited a narrow distribution of Pdδ-
(based on XPS) nanoparticles in the size range 1-6 nm (mean size = 3 nm from STEM). Hydrogenation of the primary and secondary alkynols was observed to occur in a stepwise fashion (-C≡C- → -C=C- → -C-C-) while alkanol formation via direct -C≡C- → -C-C- bond transformation was in evidence in the conversion of 2-methyl-3-butyn-2-ol. Ketone formation via double bond migration was promoted to a greater extent in the transformation of secondary (vs.
primary) alkynol. Hydrogenation rate increased in the order primary < secondary < tertiary. The selectivity and reactivity trends are accounted for in terms of electronic effects.
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