Greening hydrogenation catalysts

Iron nanoparticles

Researchers in Canada and Japan have worked together to develop a novel iron catalyst, which they suggest might make hydrogenation reactions more environment friendly. Hydrogenation reactions are commonly catalyzed using palladium or platinum compounds, but these metals are rare and expensive posing significant economic and environmental problems in obtaining adequate supplies. Iron would make a good substitute as it is abundantly available. But, iron oxidizes. Writing in the journal Green Chemistry, the team from RIKEN and McGill University, have embedded iron-based catalyst nanoparticles in a polymer matrix to protect them from oxygen and water and so preclude their catalyst from rusting. “Our aim is to develop iron-based catalysts not only for hydrogenation but also a variety of organic transformations that can be used in future industrial applications,” explains RIKEN researcher Yoichi Yamada.

New iron catalyst promises green future for hydrogenation

  • Reuben Hudson, Go Hamasaka, Takao Osako, Yochi M. A. Yamada, Chao-Jun Li, Yasuhiro Uozumi, and Audrey Moores. Highly Efficient Iron(0) Nanoparticle-Catalyzed Hydrogenation in Water in Flow, Green Chemistry. doi:10.1039/C3GC40789F



Precious metal catalysts replaced with polymer-supported iron –Highly efficient iron(0) nanoparticle-catalyzed hydrogenation in water in flow

Graphical abstract: Highly efficient iron(0) nanoparticle-catalyzed hydrogenation in water in flow

Highly efficient iron(0) nanoparticle-catalyzed hydrogenation in water in flow

Corresponding authors
Centre in Green Chemistry and Catalysis, Department of Chemistry, McGill University, 801 Sherbrooke St. West, Montreal, Canada
Division of Complex Catalysis, Institute for Molecular Science, Okazaki, Japan

RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science, 2-1 Hirowasa, Wako, Japan
Green Chem., 2013, Advance Article

DOI: 10.1039/C3GC40789F
Received 26 Apr 2013, Accepted 13 Jun 2013
First published online 27 Jun 2013

Highly efficient catalytic hydrogenations are achieved by using amphiphilic polymer-stabilized Fe(0) nanoparticle (Fe NP) catalysts in ethanol or water in a flow reactor.
Alkenes, alkynes, aromatic imines and aldehydes were hydrogenated nearly quantitatively in most cases.
Aliphatic amines and aldehydes, ketone, ester, arene, nitro, and aryl halide functionalities are not affected, which provides an interesting chemoselectivity.
The Fe NPs used in this system are stabilized and protected by an amphiphilic polymer resin, providing a unique system that combines long-term stability and high activity. The NPs were characterized by TEM of microtomed resin, which established that iron remains in the zero-valent form despite exposure to water and oxygen.
The amphiphilic resin-supported Fe(0) nanoparticles in water and in flow provide a novel, robust, cheap and environmentally benign catalyst system for chemoselective hydrogenations.