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Authors: Yunfeng Hu, Jinpeng Cao, Jun Deng, Baoyu Cui, Mingwei Tan, Junfei Li and Hongsheng Zhang

Abstract

We investigated the reductive amination of ethanol to acetonitrile on Cu/γ-Al2O3. The different catalysts were characterized by XRF, XRD, H2-TPR and CO adsorption, and products were identified by FTIR and GC–MS. Our results show that dehydrogenation of ethanol takes place over Cu sites, γ-Al2O3 not only plays the role of the carrier and has catalytic dehydration function. Cu sites with high metal area and good stability are necessary to get high yield of acetonitrile. Among the impregnation, coprecipitation and physical mixing methods, impregnation is the most suitable to form Cu sites for meeting the requirements. The phase of copper species and the stability of Cu/γ-Al2O3 catalysts are closely related to Cu loading. With the increase of copper loading up to 15%, Cu/γ-Al2O3 shows good stability, which is more important for long period reaction. The effect of different reaction conditions such as reaction temperature, ethanol WHSV and ammonia/ethanol molar ratio were also investigated.

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