Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cheap metals can be used to make products from petroleum

Date:
October 21, 2013
Source:
University of Illinois at Chicago
Summary:
A new process suggests that base metals may be worth more than their weight in gold -- as catalysts in the manufacture of countless products made from petroleum-based raw materials.

The ancient alchemists sought to transform base metals, like lead, into precious gold. Now a new process developed at the University of Illinois at Chicago suggests that base metals may be worth more than their weight in gold -- as catalysts in the manufacture of countless products made from petroleum-based raw materials.

The process is described online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Pharmaceuticals, electronic components, plastics and fuels are just some of the goods based on petroleum, a hydrocarbon molecule. But to use petroleum, the chemical bonds between its hydrogen and carbon atoms must first be broken so that other elements can be added. Breaking those bonds -- other than by burning -- is a challenge to chemists.

"These carbon-hydrogen bonds are inert, and a catalyst is required to facilitate the chemical reactions that cause the bonds to break," says Neal Mankad,

UIC assistant professor of chemistry, who developed the process with his graduate student Thomas Mazzacano. Most catalysts used currently are scarce and expensive "noble" metals, such as platinum, palladium and iridium. They are also toxic, and difficult to completely remove from pharmaceuticals and other products for human consumption.

"These metals are used for one reason -- because they work really well, and there are few alternatives," Mankad said. "Finding safer and cheaper substitutes for these noble-metal catalysts is a major goal of modern chemistry."

Mankad has developed a way to use copper and iron together to replace the extremely rare metal catalyst iridium, which is used in a chemical process called borylation. Adding a boron atom to carbon is the first step in the synthesis of many products, from chemotherapy drugs to adhesives and polymers.

"Iridium is literally the least abundant element on the periodic table," Mankad said. "In fact, much of it comes from meteorites."

In the borylation reaction, iridium takes the two electrons that form the carbon-hydrogen bond and donates them to a boron atom to bind it to the carbon. In Mankad's process, copper and iron each react with one electron, and together transfer the two electrons from a carbon-hydrogen bond to form the carbon-boron bond.

"Base metals were never considered for these two-electron reactions like borylation," said Mankad. "Copper and iron, which are pretty cheap and abundant, when placed very close together, are able to take care of two-electron reactions, just like iridium."

Mankad thinks his base-metal catalysis technique can be applied to other reactions that transform organic material into useful end-products. His group is pursuing such applications and is working to make their strategy more practical to compete with traditional, noble-metal chemistry.

"Using copper and iron for catalyzing these reactions that are necessary for making so many of the things we rely on every day will benefit the environment and help bring costs down," said Mankad. "Copper and iron are abundant and cheap, and don't have to be so completely purified out of end products, unlike the noble metals, because they are less toxic."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Chicago. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Thomas J. Mazzacano, Neal P. Mankad. Base Metal Catalysts for Photochemical C–H Borylation That Utilize Metal–Metal Cooperativity. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2013; 131002104106000 DOI: 10.1021/ja408861p

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Chicago. "Cheap metals can be used to make products from petroleum." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021131007.htm>.
University of Illinois at Chicago. (2013, October 21). Cheap metals can be used to make products from petroleum. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021131007.htm
University of Illinois at Chicago. "Cheap metals can be used to make products from petroleum." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021131007.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lithium Battery 'Holy Grail' Could Provide 4 Times The Power

Lithium Battery 'Holy Grail' Could Provide 4 Times The Power

Newsy (July 28, 2014) Stanford University published its findings for a "pure" lithium ion battery that could have our everyday devices and electric cars running longer. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shipping Crates Get New 'lease' On Life

Shipping Crates Get New 'lease' On Life

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 25, 2014) Shipping containers have been piling up as America imports more than it exports. Some university students in Washington D.C. are set to get a first-hand lesson in recycling. Their housing is being built using refashioned shipping containers. Lily Jamali reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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