p-Xylene is a major commodity chemical used for the production of polyethylene terephthalate, a polymer with applications in polyester fibers, films, and bottles. The Diels–Alder cycloaddition of 2,5-dimethylfuran and ethylene and the subsequent dehydration of the cycloadduct intermediate is an attractive reaction pathway to produce renewable p-xylene from biomass feedstocks. However, the highest yields reported previously do not exceed 75 %. We report that P-containing zeolite Beta is an active, stable, and selective catalyst for this reaction with an unprecedented p-xylene yield of 97 %. It can catalyze the dehydration reaction selectively from the furan-ethylene cycloadduct to p-xylene without the production of alkylated and oligomerized products. This behavior is distinct from that of Al-containing zeolites and other solid phosphoric acid catalysts and establishes a commercially attractive process for renewable p-xylene production.
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- heterogeneous catalysis
- renewable resources