Acidity effect on benzene methylation kinetics over substituted H-MeAlPO-5 catalysts
Methylation of aromatic compounds is a key reaction step in various industrial processes such as the aromatic cycle of methanol-to-hydrocarbons chemistry. The study of isolated methylation reactions and of the influence of catalyst acidity on their kinetics is a challenging task. Herein, we have studied unidirectional metal-substituted H-MeAlPO-5 materials to evaluate the effect of acid strength on the kinetics of benzene methylation with DME. First-principle simulations showed a direct correlation between the methylation barrier and acid site strength, which depends on the metal substituent. Three H-MeAlPO-5 catalysts with high (Me = Mg), moderate (Me = Si) and low acidity (Me = Zr) were experimentally tested, confirming a linear relationship between the methylation activation energy and acid strength. The effects of temperature and reactant partial pressure were evaluated, showing significant differences in the byproduct distribution between H-MgAlPO-5 and H-SAPO-5. Comparison with propene methylation suggested that the Mg substituted catalyst is also the most active for the selective methylation of alkenes.