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Form Matters: Catalysis with "Butterflies"

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Fossil resources (petroleum, natural gas, coal) which are widely used for the production of basic organic chemicals are at the end of the process n CO2 n H2O hn ® (CHOH)n n O2 ® (CH2)n 1/n O2 in which CO2 is reduced to hydrocarbons via photosynthesis and subsequent biological and slow geochemical processes. From this oxygen-poor feedstock, carbonyl compounds (aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids and their derivatives) are mostly produced via oxygenation (oxidation) or carbonylation reactions. For both reaction types a wide range of rather efficient catalysts has been developed. Fossil resources need to be replaced by renewable ones ideally neutral in carbondioxide consumption/production. Plant biomass is a rapidly renewable feedstock and uses sun light as energy source for its formation. Compounds with relatively high oxygen content (sugars and other polyalcohols) are the main components. New catalysts and catalytic systems are needed to convert this biomass into fine-chemicals. Our own research efforts focus on dehydrogenative coupling reactions (DHC) which is an atom economic and efficient way to obtain carbonic acids, ester, and amides from alcohols according to: R1-CH2-OH R2-XH 2 A ® R1-CO-XR2 + 2 “H2” (X = O, NH). Transition metal complexes with olefins as steering ligands and amido functions as cooperating ligands are remarkable efficient catalysts. We will discuss our efforts to develop robust catalytic systems which allow performing the DHC of substrates from renewable feedstock with a high turn over frequency and high chemoselectivity.

This talk is part of the Inorganic Chemistry series.

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