Polymers as Solvents and Ligands in Sustainable Homogeneous Catalysis
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In this project funded by the Chemical Catalysis program of the Chemistry Division, Professor David Bergbreiter of the Department of Chemistry at Texas A&M University is exploring new ways to more efficiently carry out homogeneously catalyzed reactions. Strategies that combine the solubility of polymer-bound precious metal catalysts and ligands and that use recyclable polymeric solvents will be developed leading to more practical and sustainable ways to carry out common synthetic reactions widely used in industry. This work--where undergraduate and graduate students in Professor Bergbreiter''s group develop greener solvents and new ways to make reactions faster, more selective and more sustainable--will train students in catalysis and green chemistry, afford students the opportunity to collaborate with other groups in industry or at institutions here and outside the U.S., and potentially lead to more environmentally benign ways to carry out important catalytic reactions. This project focuses on designing new ways to use polymers to facilitate catalytic processes. First, polymers will be designed to serve as solubility control elements for transition metal and organocatalysts to minimize side reactions or to simplify catalyst/product separations and catalyst/ligand recycling. Second, polymer phase handles will be used to alter catalyst solubility to enable reactions to occur faster or to enhance catalyst reactivity in alternative solvents. Third, low molecular weight non-viscous functional polymers will be used in place of toxic volatile organic solvents to afford recyclable greener solvent alternatives. Finally, functional oligomers will be used as antileaching agents along with soluble polymer bound catalysts to minimize catalyst losses typically seen in physical separations of catalysts from products at the end of a reaction.