Identifying Boron Active Sites for the Oxidative Dehydrogenation of Propane

Huan Yan, Selim Alayoglu, Weiqiang Wu, Yongbo Zhang, Eric Weitz, Peter Curran Stair*, Justin M. Notestein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Oxidative dehydrogenation of propane (ODHP) to propylene could have a significant impact on the production of this critical chemical intermediate, if appropriate catalysts can be discovered. Recently, heterogeneous catalysts based on boron (oxides and nitrides) have been demonstrated to be promising for ODHP, but their active sites have not been conclusively identified. Here, we report that the deposition of differently sized boronic acids into the micropores of silica supports results in different distributions of surface borate species after calcination. These materials, in turn, display a wide range of rates in ODHP but similar selectivity, suggesting that they differ only in the numbers of active sites. Features identified by in situ Raman, IR, and magic-angle-spinning 11B solid-state NMR spectroscopies are compared to catalyst activity. This correlation identifies the S2 borate species, a hydroxylated nonring boron, as the likely active site and provides a target for directed syntheses of future catalysts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9370-9376
Number of pages7
JournalACS Catalysis
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 6 2021


  • NMR
  • ODHP
  • precursor
  • propylene
  • selective oxidation
  • silica

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry


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