American Chemical Society
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Pyridinium-Inspired Organocatalysts for Carbon Dioxide Fixation: A Density Functional Theory Inspection

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-01-03, 17:45 authored by Morad M. El-Hendawy, Ibtesam M. Desoky, Mahmoud M. A. Mohamed, Henry J. Curran
The current project aims to apply the virtues of minimalism to examine the catalytic ability of commercially organic compounds of small chemical structures to catalyze the coupling reaction between carbon dioxide and propylene oxide (PO) under mild conditions. The proposed catalysts are pyridinium iodide (A), 2-hydroxypyridinium iodide (B), and piperidinium iodide (C), where their structure is based on cooperative acidic and nucleophilic motifs. The quantum chemistry model, M062X-D3/def2-TZVP//M062X-D3/def2-SVPP, was used to understand the reaction mechanism and the catalytic performance. Since the coupling reaction was performed under excess PO, we proposed that PO serves as a reactant and solvent. Therefore, calculations were performed in gas and liquid phases for comparison. The findings indicated that the rate-determining step depends on the chemical structure of the catalyst and whether the phase is a gas or liquid phase. In general, modeling in the liquid phase produces potential energy surfaces of lower energy barriers. The noncovalent interactions reflect the role of hydrogen bonding in controlling the kinetic behavior of the coupling reaction. Based on the finding, catalyst A is the best candidate for transforming CO2 into cyclic carbonates.