A novel solid superbase is derived from zirconia-supported potassium nitrate. Dispersion and decomposition of potassium nitrate on zirconia were investigated and compared with that on alumina to explore the effect of the support on the preparation of solid strong bases. Spontaneous dispersion capacity of KNO3 on ZrO2 was found to be 8.1 K+ nm-2, very close to that of a vacant site on ZrO2. An unusually strong basicity was generated on ZrO2 through decomposition of the loaded KNO3 that began around 613 K, enhancing the catalytic activity of ZrO2 in cis-but-2-ene isomerization at 273 K. Moreover, KNO3/ZrO2 samples, except 34% KNO3/ZrO2, possessed a base strength of H- = 27.0 that was characteristic of solid superbases.
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