Here we report for the first time a Pd-MnO2 catalyst with a single-atom feature that can convert 5-hydroxylmethyfurfural (HMF) into the important bioplastic building block 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) with a high yield of 88% in aqueous solution using O2 as an oxidant at ambient pressure. Pd-MnO2 shows higher activity in the productivity of FDCA (100.91 mmol h-1 gPd-1) than its Pd nanoparticle counterpart (45.57 mmol h-1 gPd-1) and state-of-the-art Pd-based catalysts. Pd-MnO2 displays promising recyclability with no degradation after five catalytic runs. Experimental and theoretical results suggest that the single-atom Pd sites that have enhanced binding affinity to HMF and their surrounding sites on the MnO2 support work synergistically toward HMF oxidation.
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