The kinetic significance of V5+ in n-butane oxidation catalyzed by vanadium phosphates

George W. Coulston*, Simon R. Bare, Harold Kung, Kari Birkeland, Gregory K. Bethke, Richard Harlow, Norman Herron, Peter L. Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Scopus citations


Maleic anhydride, a precursor to polyester resins, is made by oxidation of n-butane over vanadium phosphate catalysts. This system is of general interest because it is the only heterogeneously catalyzed, alkane-selective oxidation reaction in commercial use. Time-resolved in situ x-ray absorption spectroscopy shows that when either α1-VOPO4/SiO2 or (VO)2P2O7/SiO2 catalysts are exposed to n-butane, the rate of maleic anhydride formation is proportional to the rate of decay of V5+ species in the catalyst. Thus V5+ species are kinetically significant for the production of maleic anhydride and not just for the production of by-products. The results also suggest that V5+ species may play a role in the initial hydrogen abstraction from n-butane, the rate-determining step in the reaction sequence. V4+ sites appear to be responsible for by-product formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-193
Number of pages3
Issue number5297
StatePublished - Jan 10 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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