Paired Lewis Acid Site Zeolite Catalysts for the Selective Conversion of Glucose to Fructose

A zeolite catalyst with a unique chemical structure that utilizes paired Lewis acid sites to increase the catalytic selectivity for the isomerization of glucose and other sugars into fructose.

The Need

Fructose is a key compound in the food and fermentation industries that is typically produced via the enzymatic isomerization of glucose. The enzymes used to efficiently convert glucose to fructose are expensive to manufacture and sensitive to processing conditions. An alternative approach is to design heterogeneous catalysts, such as zeolites, that mimic enzyme function. However, zeolites are commonly used for Bronsted acid catalyzed reactions. The catalytic capability of zeolites to mimic enzymatic conversions would be greatly improved with the use of Lewis acid sites that originate from metals.

The Technology

Inventors at The Ohio State University, led by Dr. Nicholas Brunelli, have created a heterogeneous catalyst with zeolite material containing paired Lewis acid sites. This unique chemical structure increases catalytic selectivity for the isomerization of glucose and other sugars into fructose when compared with isolated Sn-BEA catalysts, the most commonly researched catalyst of this reaction. The process involves synthesizing a molecular precursor which is then incorporated with the synthesis of zeolite beta. Extensive characterization demonstrates that the paired site precursor is incorporated within the zeolite framework and is accessible. The catalyst may have additional uses and benefits in selective dehydrogenation of propane to propylene or synthesis of dimethylcarbonate from carbon dioxide, aldol condensations and Diels-Alder reactions.

Commercial Applications

  • Convert glucose to fructose for food and drink applications
  • Dehydrogenation of propane to propylene
  • Synthesis of dimethylcarbonate from CO2


  • More selective conversion of sugars to isomerization products

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