Liquid Phase Furfural Oxidation under Uncontrolled pH in Batch and Flow Conditions: The Role of in Situ Formed Base

Selective oxidation of furfural to furoic acid was performed with pure oxygen in aqueous phase under mild conditions and uncontrolled pH using hydrotalcite-supported gold nanoparticles as catalyst. Hydrotalcites with different Mg: Al ratios were tested as support. The effects of reaction time, temperature and furfural/catalyst ratio were evaluated. The catalyst Au/HT 4:1 showed the highest activity and selectivity to the desired product, achieving a complete conversion of furfural to furoic acid after 2 h at 110 °C. Further, stability tests were carried out in a continuous stirred-tank reactor and a progressive deactivation of the catalyst due to the leaching of Mg2+ cations from the support inducing changes in the pH of the reaction medium was observed.