American Chemical Society
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Highly Selective Olefin Trimerization Catalysis by a Borane-Activated Titanium Trimethyl Complex

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journal contribution
posted on 2013-12-09, 00:00 authored by Aaron Sattler, Jay A. Labinger, John E. Bercaw
Reaction of a trimethyl titanium complex, (FI)­TiMe3 (FI = phenoxy-imine), with 1 equiv of B­(C6F5)3 gives [(FI)­TiMe2]­[MeB­(C6F5)3], an effective precatalyst for the selective trimerization of ethylene. Mechanistic studies indicate that catalyst initiation involves generation of an active TiII species by olefin insertion into a Ti–Me bond, followed by β-H elimination and reductive elimination of methane, and that initiation is slow relative to trimerization. (FI)­TiMe3/B­(C6F5)3 also leads to a competent catalyst for the oligomerization of α-olefins, displaying high selectivity for trimers (>95%), approximately 85% of which are one regioisomer. This catalyst system thus shows promise for selectively converting light α-olefins into transportation fuels and lubricants.