New gold catalysts supported on CeO2, ZrO2 and TiO2 were synthesized by two different techniques: deposition-precipitation and colloidal method. The role of the surfactant (PVA, PVP, THPC) was also investigated. The catalysts were tested in the oxidation of glucose to gluconic acid, in aqueous environment and under mild conditions (60 °C and atmospheric pressure). TEM and SEM analyses have shown that the small size of gold nanoparticles is a necessary condition, but not sufficient for a good conversion. In fact, for an active sample, we have verified that the excess of surfactant must be removed because it would coat the surface of the catalyst. The surfactant, however, should not be completely eliminated, since it has the fundamental role of stabilizing the sample preventing nanoparticles from aggregation. It was evidenced that both the synthetic approach and the kind of support affect the catalysts’ activity. In fact, by focusing on the three different supports, with all the preparation methods, the ceria has proved to be the best support. This is due to its ability to obtain small gold nanoparticles and to its ability to accumulate oxygen. The most appropriate synthesis methodology proved to be the colloidal method with PVA. Recyclability issue was investigated too.
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