Catalytic Hydrogenation with Earth-Abundant Metal Systems

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Joanna Webb

West Virginia Wesleyan College

Department of Chemistry

Hydrogenation reactions have diverse applications in the petrochemical, food, pharmaceutical, and agricultural industries. In addition, the hydrogenation of carbon dioxide to produce liquid fuels has the potential to directly impact the energy sector. A famous homogeneous hydrogenation catalyst, Wilkinson’s catalyst, was reported in the 1960’s and facilitates the conversion of alkenes to alkanes.  Extension to asymmetric hydrogenation of parochial molecules by chiral metal complexes has emerged as a useful synthetic tool for the preparation of single enantiomer molecules.

This research study is designed to explore catalytic hydrogenation with Earth-abundant metal systems (i.e., cobalt) bearing chiral nitrogen-based ligands. Chiral nitrogen-based ligands provide an opportunity to investigate a relatively underexplored area of hydrogenation chemistry. Specifically, chiral cobalt complexes will be synthesized for the investigation of asymmetric hydrogenation reactivity.

Brett Hakey, WV WC, undergraduate research student working with Dr. Joanna Webb.  Brett was a senior during this grant period and is now enrolled as a graduate student at WVU. Brett is pictured here using the NMR at WVU to run samples on the Dr. Webb’s Research Seed Grant entitled “Olefin hydrogenation with transition metal complexes bearing chiral nitrogen-based ligands”

Notashia Baughman, WV Wesleyan College undergraduate research student, working in a nitrogen-filled glovebox on research funded by the NASA EPSCoR Seed grant program.