Catalyzing Hydrogenations without Metal

Catalyzing Hydrogenations without Metal

Author: Xin Su

Metals, especially noble metals, are always present in heterogeneous hydrogenation catalysts because of their active sites. While efforts have been made to find replacements with inexpensive metals, chemists also seek possibilities to completely abandon the use of them entirely.

Hermenegildo Garcia, Vasile Parvulescu, and colleagues, Universitat Politécnica de Valencia, Spain and University of Bucharest, Romania, have found that graphenes are capable of catalyzing the hydrogenation of alkenes with isolated and conjugated C=C bonds as well as the selective hydrogenation of acetylene in the presence of a large excess of ethylene.

It is proposed that frustrated Lewis acid-base pairs on graphenes are responsible for H2 activation. This study represents a rare example where the hydrogenation of unsaturated hydrocarbons is realized in the presence of a non-metallic catalyst. More importantly, it may inspire the exploration of graphenes as catalysts for other transformations that rely on frustrated Lewis pairs.


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