Light, combined with a novel rhodium catalyst, enables greener production of chemical feedstocks from biorenewables. A key challenge in the utilization of biomass for fuels and fine chemical applications is the control of oxygen and nitrogen-containing functional groups.Unfortunately, current routes such as gasification also generate unwanted by-products such as carbon dioxide and carbonaceous material. Other processes require additional, sacrificial chemicals, increasing costs and decreasing sustainability. Researchers developed a new process for the conversion of primary alcohols into hydrocarbons through tandem catalytic reactions. One reaction removes hydrogen from the alcohol producing valuable H2, while the other removes an atom of carbon and oxygen and produces carbon monoxide. Typically carbon monoxide inhibits the removal of hydrogen, but the use of light and a new rhodium catalyst created specially for this process prevents the inhibition. Interestingly, the catalyst was also found to be useful for controlling reactions with primary amines. The tandem reactions run at room temperature are highly selective and high yielding so these findings have great potential for enabling new industrial biorenewable-based processes.
Acceptorless Photocatalytic Dehydrogenation for Alcohol Decarbonylation and Imine Synthesis