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Title: Synthesis and characterization of binary and ternary hydrotalcites-like compounds for the hydroxylation of phenol
Authors: Muthwa, Sindisiwe Fortunate 
Issue Date: 2017
Hydrotalcites (HT) and hydrotalcites-like (HTLc) compounds were synthesized by the co-precipitation method under low supersaturation. The synthesized binary Mg-Al hydrotalcites and ternary Cu/Mg-Al hydrotalcite-like compounds were characterized by various physico-chemical techniques such as inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES), powder X-ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier transform- infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), ultraviolet-visible (UV-VIS) spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and BET surface area analysis. Elemental composition generated from ICP-OES data revealed a value of x in the region of 0.25 to 0.33 for all the compounds except for the MgAl-11 sample which revealed an x value of 0.5 while XRD patterns exhibited characteristic features indicative of an ordered layered material. FT-IR spectra confirmed the presence of characteristic functional groups and interlayer anions. Only Cu2+ which has a d9 configuration was accountable for the bands identified in UV-VIS spectra, whereas both Mg and Al with their d0 electron configurations showed no absorptive bands in the UV-VIS spectra. During thermal treatment by TGA, typical weight loss of Cu-Mg/Al HTLcs with temperature elevation was observed. The SEM images clearly demonstrated that all the Cu-Mg/Al HTLcs retained their characteristically layered structure morphologies. The BET surface area measurements showed no trend, however the surface area decreased with an increase in the copper concentration in some cases. For the heterogeneous hydroxylation of phenol using H2O2 as an oxidant, several reaction parameters such as solvent systems, catalyst amount, temperature, substrate/oxidant ratio, time and solvent volume were investigated. The product stream, monitored by gas chromatography showed that catechol (CAT) and hydroquinone (HQ) were the main products. Non-catalytic (blank) experiments were investigated to determine whether the reactants and the internal standard contributes to the conversion of phenol without the use of a catalyst. All blank reactions showed very low phenol conversions which were less than 1%, whereas the Mg/Al HTs showed low phenol conversions as well. All the Cu-Mg/Al catalysts showed measurable phenol conversion with Cu-Mg/Al-51a giving the highest conversion of 29.9% and a 56 and 44% selectivity towards CAT and HQ, respectively. The Cu-Mg/Al-15b catalyst, which had the lowest copper concentration, showed the lowest phenol conversion of 8.3% with a 55 % CAT selectivity and 45% HQ selectivity. In general, the phenol conversion increased with an increase in copper concentration. This reinforced the hypothesis that copper was the active centre in this reaction, since no measurable conversion was observed with Mg/Al HTs.
Submitted in fulfilment of the academic requirements for the Degree of Master's in Chemistry, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2017.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Applied Sciences)

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