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Solid Base Catalysis of Hydrocarbon Functionalization for Sustainable Chemical Synthesis

CO2 insertion to transform low-value hydrocarbons into high volume commodity
chemicals and materials


Matthew Kanan, Chemistry

Reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint of the chemical industry will require processes that utilize non-fossil feedstocks and minimal non-renewable energy.

This project will investigate a new concept for performing an unprecedented transformation—the catalytic insertion of CO2 into hydrocarbon C–H bonds to form carboxylic acids and their derivatives. These compounds comprise a large class of commodity chemicals with multi-megaton applications. Because of the low reactivity of C–H bonds and CO2

all existing methods for this transformation require excess amounts of extremely resource-intensive reagents that have large GHG footprints, which defeats the purpose of using CO2 as a carbon source. In this project, the research team will use porous solid-base materials to perform hydrocarbon CO2 insertions in catalytic cycles that consume no other reagents and generate no waste byproducts. The team will investigate the fundamental chemistry of solid bases and design reactors to minimize the process requirements.


Awarded 2018