During solventless alkylation of phenol with 4-hydroxy-2-butanone under microwave irradiation, paratoluenesulfonic acid (pTSA)-modified montmorillonite clays gave, regioselectively, 4-(4′-hydroxyphenyl)-2-butanone (raspberry ketone). The duration for this reaction under microwave irradiation is much shorter than that of the conventional method. A comparative study of the alkylation reaction over a montmorillonite clay sample treated with 0.5 M-pTSA (0.5 M-pTSA clay) with that of Al-exchanged montmorillonite (Al3+-Mont) and beta-zeolite (HB) was carried out. The results show that the reaction time to reach equilibrium and the product distribution pattern for the reaction over 0.5 M-pTSA clay were similar to those values for the HB. Micropores formed on the clay surface during the pTSA treatment were found to enhance the rate of formation of C-alkylation. Micropores appear to enable better access to the active sites during the course of reaction.

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