Bio-oil upgrading via vapor-phase ketonization over nanostructured FeOx and MnOx: catalytic performance and mechanistic insight

Eleni Heracleous*, Dong Gu, Ferdi Schüth, James A. Bennett, Mark Isaacs, Adam F. Lee, Karen Wilson, Angelos A. Lappas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, nanostructured FeOx and MnOx were prepared by two synthetic routes, nanocasting and hydrothermal, and evaluated for bio-oil upgrading via vapor-phase ketonization. Catalytic performance measurements in the ketonization of representative model compounds, acetic and propionic acid, at 335 °C showed high activity for the hydrothermal MnOx and nanocast FeOx (conversion >90%) with high selectivity to the respective ketones. Diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy (DRIFTS) studies followed by temperature-programmed thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and MS showed that the reactive intermediates are bidentate acetate species that desorb as acetone over FeOx and unreacted acetic acid over MnOx (in contradiction to its associated catalysis). Powder X-ray diffraction and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analysis of used samples revealed that MnO2 was reduced to MnO during reaction. The relative surface concentrations of adsorbed acetate for the used MnOx catalysts (from DRIFTS) correlated with their corresponding acetic acid conversion (from ketonization studies), indicating that MnO is the active phase for acetic acid ketonization, with MnO2 a precursor which is reduced in situ at temperatures >300 °C. Vapor-phase ketonization of the aqueous phase of a real thermal bio-oil, produced from the fast pyrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass, was demonstrated successfully over MnOx prepared by the hydrothermal route, highlighting this as an attractive approach for the upgrading of pyrolysis bio-oils.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319–329
Number of pages11
JournalBiomass Conversion and Biorefinery
Issue number3
Early online date31 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


  • pyrolysis bio-oil
  • upgrading
  • vapor-phase ketonization
  • MnO(x)
  • FeO(x)


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