q&more
My watch list
my.chemie.de  
Login  

News

Reusable ruthenium-based catalyst could be a game-changer for the biomass industry

JACS

The weak electron-donating capability of ruthenium (Ru) nanoparticles supported on niobium pentoxide (Nb2O5) is thought to promote reductive amination while preventing the formation of undesirable by-products.

05-Sep-2017: Known for their outstanding versatility, primary amines (derivatives of ammonia) are industrially important compounds used in the preparation of a wide range of dyes, detergents and medicines. Although many attempts have been made to improve their synthesis using catalysts containing nickel, palladium and platinum, for example, few have succeeded in reducing the formation of secondary and tertiary amines and other undesired by-products.

Now, researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) have developed a highly selective catalyst consisting of ruthenium nanoparticles supported on niobium pentoxide (Ru/Nb2O5). In a study the team demonstrated that Ru/Nb2O5 is capable of producing primary amines from carbonyl compounds with ammonia (NH3) and dihydrogen (H2), with negligible formation of by-products.

The study compared the extent to which different catalysts could convert furfural to furfurylamine in a process known as reductive amination1. This reaction is one of the most useful methods for producing primary amines on an industrial scale. The Ru/Nb2O5 catalyst outperformed all other types tested -- remarkably, a yield of 99% was attained when ammonia was used in excess quantity.

Even after three recycles, the Ru/Nb2O5 catalyst achieved consistent results, with consecutive yields of over 90%. The superior catalytic efficiency is thought to be due to ruthenium's weak electron-donating properties on the Ru/Nb2O5 surface.

Michikazu Hara of Tokyo Tech's Laboratory for Materials and Structures and his co-workers then explored how effectively the new catalyst could break down biomass (in the form of glucose) into 2,5-bis(aminomethyl)furan, a monomer for aramid production. Previous experiments using a nickel-based catalyst led to a yield of around 50% from glucose-derived feedstock (5-hydroxymethylfurfural). The new catalyst used in combination with a so-called ruthenium-xantphos complex produced a yield of 93%. With little to no by-products observed, Ru/Nb2O5 represents a major breakthrough in the clean, large-scale production of biomass-derived materials.

Further studies to expand on these initial findings are already underway. By pushing the boundaries of material design, the researchers say that Ru/Nb2O5 may accelerate the production of environmentally friendly plastics, rubber and heat-resistant aramid fibers. In future, the Ru/Nb2O5 catalyst may also impact the development of novel anti-cancer drugs, anti-bacterials, pesticides, agrochemicals, fertilizers, bio-oils and biofuels.

Original publication:
Tasuku Komanoya, Takashi Kinemura, Yusuke Kita, Keigo Kamata, and Michikazu Hara; "Electronic Effect of Ruthenium Nanoparticles on Efficient Reductive Amination of Carbonyl Compounds"; JACS; 2017

Facts, background information, dossiers

  • niobium catalysts
  • niobium oxide

More about Tokyo Institute of Technology

  • News

    Catalyst redefines rate limitations in ammonia production

    Studies by researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology have developed a catalyst that is so effective at promoting dissociation of the nitrogen bond in ammonia production reactions that it is no longer the step limiting the rate of the reaction.Ammonia (NH3) is crucial for the industrial s ... more

q&more – the networking platform for quality excellence in lab and process

The q&more concept is to increase the visibility of recent research and innovative solutions, and support the exchange of knowledge. In the broad spectrum of subjects covered, the focus is on achieving maximum quality in highly innovative sectors. As a modern knowledge platform, q&more offers market participants one-of-a-kind networking opportunities. Cutting-edge research is presented by authors of international repute. Attractively presented in a high-quality context, and published in German and English, the original articles introduce new concepts and highlight unconventional solution strategies.

> more about q&more

q&more is supported by:



Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE