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Porous Silicon Carbide (SiC): A Chance for Improving Catalysts or Just Another Active-Phase Carrier?

Cite this: Chem. Rev. 2021, 121, 17, 10559–10665
Publication Date (Web):July 13, 2021
https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.chemrev.1c00269
Copyright © 2021 American Chemical Society

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    Abstract

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    There is an obvious gap between efforts dedicated to the control of chemicophysical and morphological properties of catalyst active phases and the attention paid to the search of new materials to be employed as functional carriers in the upgrading of heterogeneous catalysts. Economic constraints and common habits in preparing heterogeneous catalysts have narrowed the selection of active-phase carriers to a handful of materials: oxide-based ceramics (e.g. Al2O3, SiO2, TiO2, and aluminosilicates–zeolites) and carbon. However, these carriers occasionally face chemicophysical constraints that limit their application in catalysis. For instance, oxides are easily corroded by acids or bases, and carbon is not resistant to oxidation. Therefore, these carriers cannot be recycled. Moreover, the poor thermal conductivity of metal oxide carriers often translates into permanent alterations of the catalyst active sites (i.e. metal active-phase sintering) that compromise the catalyst performance and its lifetime on run. Therefore, the development of new carriers for the design and synthesis of advanced functional catalytic materials and processes is an urgent priority for the heterogeneous catalysis of the future. Silicon carbide (SiC) is a non-oxide semiconductor with unique chemicophysical properties that make it highly attractive in several branches of catalysis. Accordingly, the past decade has witnessed a large increase of reports dedicated to the design of SiC-based catalysts, also in light of a steadily growing portfolio of porous SiC materials covering a wide range of well-controlled pore structure and surface properties. This review article provides a comprehensive overview on the synthesis and use of macro/mesoporous SiC materials in catalysis, stressing their unique features for the design of efficient, cost-effective, and easy to scale-up heterogeneous catalysts, outlining their success where other and more classical oxide-based supports failed. All applications of SiC in catalysis will be reviewed from the perspective of a given chemical reaction, highlighting all improvements rising from the use of SiC in terms of activity, selectivity, and process sustainability. We feel that the experienced viewpoint of SiC-based catalyst producers and end users (these authors) and their critical presentation of a comprehensive overview on the applications of SiC in catalysis will help the readership to create its own opinion on the central role of SiC for the future of heterogeneous catalysis.

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