Probing the Transformation of Boron Nitride Catalysts under Oxidative Dehydrogenation Conditions

Alyssa M. Love, Brijith Thomas, Sarah E. Specht, Michael P. Hanrahan, Juan M. Venegas, Samuel P. Burt, Joseph T. Grant, Melissa C. Cendejas, William P. McDermott, Aaron J. Rossini, Ive Hermans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) and boron nitride nanotubes (BNNT) were recently reported as highly selective catalysts for the oxidative dehydrogenation (ODH) of alkanes to olefins in the gas phase. Previous studies revealed a substantial increase in surface oxygen content after exposure to ODH conditions (heating to ca. 500 °C under a flow of alkane and oxygen); however, the complexity of these materials has thus far precluded an in-depth understanding of the oxygenated surface species. In this contribution, we combine advanced NMR spectroscopy experiments with scanning electron microscopy and soft X-ray absorption spectroscopy to characterize the molecular structure of the oxygen functionalized phase that arises on h-BN and BNNT following catalytic testing for ODH of propane. The pristine BN materials are readily oxidized and hydrolyzed under ODH reaction conditions to yield a phase consisting of three-coordinate boron sites with variable numbers of hydroxyl and bridging oxide groups which is denoted B(OH) x O 3-x (where x = 0-3). Evidence for this robust oxide phase revises previous literature hypotheses of hydroxylated BN edges as the active component on h-BN.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-190
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 9 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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