Inhibition of a gold-based catalyst in benzyl alcohol oxidation: Understanding and remediation

Emmanuel Skupien*, Rob J. Berger, Vera P. Santos, Jorge Gascon, Michiel Makkee, Michiel T. Kreutzer, Patricia J. Kooyman, Jacob A. Moulijn, Freek Kapteijn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Benzyl alcohol oxidation was carried out in toluene as solvent, in the presence of the potentially inhibiting oxidation products benzaldehyde and benzoic acid. Benzoic acid, or a product of benzoic acid, is identified to be the inhibiting species. The presence of a basic potassium salt (K2CO3 or KF) suppresses this inhibition, but promotes the formation of benzyl benzoate from the alcohol and aldehyde. When a small amount of water is added together with the potassium salt, an even greater beneficial effect is observed, due to a synergistic effect with the base. A kinetic model, based on the three main reactions and four major reaction components, is presented to describe the concentration-time profiles and inhibition. The inhibition, as well as the effect of the base, was captured in the kinetic model, by combining strong benzoic acid adsorption and competitive adsorption with benzyl alcohol. The effect of the potassium salt is accounted for in terms of neutralization of benzoic acid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-115
Number of pages27
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 15 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Catalysis
  • Deactivation
  • Gold
  • Inhibition
  • Kinetics
  • Mechanism
  • Modeling
  • Oxidation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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