Greening hydrogenation catalysts

Researchers in Canada and Japan have worked together to develop a novel iron catalyst, which they suggest might make hydrogenation reactions more environment friendly. Hydrogenation reactions are commonly catalyzed using palladium or platinum compounds, but these metals are rare and expensive posing significant economic and environmental problems in obtaining adequate supplies. Iron would make a good substitute as it is abundantly available. But, iron oxidizes. Writing in the journal Green Chemistry, the team from RIKEN and McGill University, have embedded iron-based catalyst nanoparticles in a polymer matrix to protect them from oxygen and water and so preclude their catalyst from rusting. Our aim is to develop iron-based catalysts not only for hydrogenation but also a variety of organic transformations that can be used in future industrial applications, explains RIKEN researcher Yoichi Yamada.