Vanadium phosphate materials as selective oxidation catalysts
Vanadium phosphates have been established as selective hydrocarbon oxidation catalysts for more than 40 years. Their primary use commercially has been in the production of maleic anhydride (MA) from n-butane. During this period, improvements in the yield of MA have been sought. Strategies to achieve these improvements have included the addition of secondary metal ions to the catalyst, optimization of the catalyst precursor formation, and intensification of the selective oxidation process through improved reactor technology. The mechanism of the reaction continues to be an active subject of research, and the role of the bulk catalyst structure and an amorphous surface layer are considered here with respect to the various V-P-O phases present. The active site of the catalyst is considered to consist of V4+ and V5+ couples, and their respective incidence and roles are examined in detail here. The complex and extensive nature of the oxidation, which for butane oxidation to MA is a 14-electron transfer process, is of broad importance, particularly in view of the applications of vanadium phosphate catalysts to other processes. A perspective on the future use of vanadium phosphate catalysts is included in this review.