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An inexpensive iron catalyst for efficient hydrogenation reactions

By Tetsuo Satoh |

The research group of Yasuhiro Uozumi and Yoichi Yamada at Riken (Saitama, Japan; www.riken.jp), in collaboration with professor Audrey Moores of McGill University (Montreal, Que.), has developed a highly efficient catalyst for performing hydrogenation reactions, which are important in the refining of petroleum and oils and fats. Compared with conventional catalysts, which use precious metals costing hundreds of thousands of dollars per kilogram, the new catalyst system is based on inexpensive ($1/kg) and abundant iron. Uozumi’s group had been developing hydrogenation catalysts by depositing nano-sized Pt and Pd particles onto polymer matrices. Now, the researchers applied their deposition technology for nano-sized (5 nm) Fe(0) particles. The nano-Fe is deposited on an amphiphilic polymer resin (polystyrene-polyethylene glycol) with 0.09 mm dia., at a temperature of 180°C. Although insoluble in water and organic solvents, the resin can absorb such liquids sufficiently to act as solvent for the reaction. The new catalyst worked very efficiently for the hydrogenation of alkenes and alkynes in an ethanol solution, using a flow-type reactor with H2. A nearly 100% yield was achieved within 1 min., which is almost 1/100th the time…
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