Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Catalyst in a teacup: New approach to chemical reduction

Date:
March 25, 2013
Source:
University of New South Wales
Summary:
Taking their inspiration from nature, scientists have developed a new method for carrying out chemical reduction – an industrial process used to produce fuels and chemicals that are vital for modern society. Their catalyst-based approach has the big advantages that it uses cheap, replenishable reagents and it works well at room temperature and in air – so much so, it can even be carried out safely in a teacup.

The new catalyst-based approach to chemical reduction works well at room temperature and in air - and can even be carried out in a teacup
Credit: University of New South Wales

Taking their inspiration from nature, scientists at the University of New South Wales have developed a new method for carrying out chemical reduction -- an industrial process used to produce fuels and chemicals that are vital for modern society.

Their catalyst-based approach has the big advantages that it uses cheap, replenishable reagents and it works well at room temperature and in air -- so much so, it can even be carried out safely in a teacup.

The research, by a team led by Associate Professor Stephen Colbran, of the UNSW School of Chemistry, has been published as the cover of the journal, Angewandte Chemie.

The catalyst they designed mimics the activity of naturally occurring enzymes that catalyse reduction, such as alcohol dehydrogenase in yeast, that helps produce alcohol from sugar.

"Industrial chemical reduction processes underpin human existence, but are unsustainable because they irreversibly consume reagents that are made at prohibitively high energy cost," Dr Colbran says.

"We believe our new biomimetic design may have wide applications in chemical reduction."

Chemical reduction involves the addition of electrons to a substance, and is the basis of making many fuels, including the sugars that plants produce during photosynthesis.

In industry, molecular hydrogen and reactive reagents such as sodium borohydride are used as reducing agents during the production of pharmaceuticals, agrichemicals and ammonia for fertiliser.

"Manufacture of these substances is energy costly, leads to the release of carbon dioxide and they are difficult to handle and store," Dr Colbran says. "So we decided to look at nature to see how nature does it."

The team combined a transition metal complex containing rhodium with a Hantzsch dihydropyridine -- an organic donor of a hydride ion similar to biological nicotinamides -- to produce the new bio-inspired catalyst. They tested it on a common process -- reduction of imines -- and were surprised to find it worked in ambient conditions with more than 90 per cent efficiency in most cases.

Dr Colbran even tested it out in a teacup. "I thought it would be a bit of fun. And it makes a serious point -- our catalyst system is very easy to use."

By coincidence, the research comes exactly a century after Alfred Werner won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work on the structures of transition metal complexes. As well, his PhD supervisor, Arthur Hantzsch, discovered the way to synthesise dihydropyridines.

"It has only taken 100 years to combine the work of doctoral adviser and student into one molecule," Dr Colbran says.

A future aim is to try to convert the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, into the renewable fuel, methanol, much more efficiently.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New South Wales. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alex McSkimming, Mohan M. Bhadbhade, Stephen B. Colbran. Cover Picture: Bio-Inspired Catalytic Imine Reduction by Rhodium Complexes with Tethered Hantzsch Pyridinium Groups: Evidence for Direct Hydride Transfer from Dihydropyridine to Metal-Activated Substrate (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 12/2013). Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2013; 52 (12): 3283 DOI: 10.1002/anie.201301157

Cite This Page:

University of New South Wales. "Catalyst in a teacup: New approach to chemical reduction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130325111214.htm>.
University of New South Wales. (2013, March 25). Catalyst in a teacup: New approach to chemical reduction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130325111214.htm
University of New South Wales. "Catalyst in a teacup: New approach to chemical reduction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130325111214.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) If you've ever watched "Back to the Future Part II" and wanted to get your hands on a hoverboard, well, you might soon be in luck. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Researchers in South Korea are developing a robotic pilot that could potentially replace humans in the cockpit. Unlike drones and autopilot programs which are configured for specific aircraft, the robots' humanoid design will allow it to fly any type of plane with no additional sensors. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Graphene Paint Offers Rust-Free Future

Graphene Paint Offers Rust-Free Future

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) British scientists have developed a prototype graphene paint that can make coatings which are resistant to liquids, gases, and chemicals. The team says the paint could have a variety of uses, from stopping ships rusting to keeping food fresher for longer. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Massive Air Bag Recall Affects More Than 4.5 Million Vehicles

Massive Air Bag Recall Affects More Than 4.5 Million Vehicles

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) Major automakers are recalling millions of vehicles due to potentially defective front passenger air bag inflators that can rupture and spray metal shrapnel. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins