Reaction kinetics studies were conducted for the conversions of ethanol and acetic acid over silica-supported Pt and Pt/Sn catalysts at temperatures from 500 to 600 K. Addition of Sn to Pt catalysts inhibits the decomposition of ethanol to CO, CH4, and C2H6, such that PtSn-based catalysts are active for dehydrogenation of ethanol to acetaldehyde. Furthermore, PtSn-based catalysts are selective for the conversion of acetic acid to ethanol, acetaldehyde, and ethyl acetate, whereas Pt catalysts lead mainly to decomposition products such as CH4 and CO. These results are interpreted using density functional theory (DFT) calculations for various adsorbed species and transition states on Pt(111) and Pt3Sn(111) surfaces. The Pt3Sn alloy slab was selected for DFT studies because results from in situ 119Sn Mössbauer spectroscopy and CO adsorption microcalorimetry of silica-supported Pt/Sn catalysts indicate that Pt−Sn alloy is the major phase present. Accordingly, results from DFT calculations show that transition-state energies for C−O and C−C bond cleavage in ethanol-derived species increase by 25−60 kJ/mol on Pt3Sn(111) compared to Pt(111), whereas energies of transition states for dehydrogenation reactions increase by only 5−10 kJ/mol. Results from DFT calculations show that transition-state energies for CH3CO−OH bond cleavage increase by only 12 kJ/mol on Pt3Sn(111) compared to Pt(111). The suppression of C−C bond cleavage in ethanol and acetic acid upon addition of Sn to Pt is also confirmed by microcalorimetric and infrared spectroscopic measurements at 300 K of the interactions of ethanol and acetic acid with Pt and PtSn on a silica support that had been silylated to remove silanol groups.
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