Design of bifunctional 1D nanostructures for the catalytic conversion of carbon dioxide into cyclic carbonates

Chloé Célis, Marco Armandi, Loraine Soumoy, Sonia Fiorilli, Carmela Aprile

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One dimensional silica-based nanotubes represent an innovative and promising morphology in the context of heterogeneous catalysis. Here these nanostructures were prepared for the first time as bifunctional materials, with hafnium or tin atoms inserted as single sites in the silica structure and imidazolium moieties anchored at the surface. The low dimensional solids thus present both acid sites owing to the presence of metal cations in tetrahedral coordination (co-catalyst) and nucleophilic species coming from the counterion of the imidazolium moieties (catalyst). The design of the catalysts consisted of two main steps. The Hf- or Sn-doped silica solids were initially prepared using a straightforward sol-gel method including a pH adjustment step allowing a quantitative insertion of the metal cations in the silica framework. These materials were post-functionalized with imidazolium moieties. The solids were extensively characterized thus confirming the presence of well-defined and open tubular structure, high specific surface area, successful insertion of Hf and Sn in the silica framework, and a correct functionalization with imidazolium salts. The different catalysts were tested in the valorization of CO2 with styrene oxide to give the corresponding cyclic carbonate. The bifunctional solids were stable and recyclable. The versatility of the best catalyst, represented by the Hf-based material, was confirmed using different epoxides. Finally, by tuning the reaction conditions or changing the imidazolium salt, a further boost of the catalytic performances was achieved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114467
JournalCatalysis Today
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2024


  • Bifunctional heterogeneous catalyst
  • CO valorization
  • Cyclic carbonates
  • Recycling
  • Silica materials
  • Sustainability


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