A biomass-derived metal-free catalyst doped with phosphorus for highly efficient and selective oxidation of furfural into maleic acid

Huifa Zhang, Shaolin Wang, Huixian Zhang, James Hanley Clark, Fahai Cao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present work introduces an extremely simple and eco-friendly strategy for the highly selective synthesis of maleic acid (MA) via oxidation of renewable furfural using the abundant biomass-derived P–C-T catalyst. The P–C-T carbon catalyst was metal-free and prepared by the pyrolyzation of phytic acid, which is a ubiquitous natural molecule containing phosphorus. Extensive characterization was carried out to reveal the morphological and elemental properties of the synthesized P–C-T series. The effect of the annealing temperature of pyrolyzing phytic acid on the properties of the yielded P–C-T and subsequent catalytic performance was also explored. The catalytic oxidation of furfural to MA was carried out in the presence of H2O2 within an aqueous system. The reaction conditions including the catalyst loading, H2O2 concentration, reaction temperature and duration were further optimized. It was found that P–C-600 exhibited a remarkable catalytic activity for MA synthesis from furfural oxidation with a maximum yield of 76.3% achieved in water. The excellent catalytic performance of P–C-600 was attributed to its unique atomic layered structure and suitable acidity. P–C-600 could also be re-used for at least six runs without any obvious decrease in its catalytic performance. The intrinsic advantages of green synthesis, low cost, and excellent catalytic performance in the catalytic oxidation of furfural to MA suggested that P–C-600 would be a promising catalyst in future industrial applications for MA synthesis in a green manner.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1370-1381
Number of pages12
JournalGreen Chemistry
Early online date19 Jan 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jan 2021

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