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Scope and Mechanistic Analysis for Chemoselective Hydrogenolysis of Carbonyl Compounds Catalyzed by a Cationic Ruthenium Hydride Complex with a Tunable Phenol Ligand

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journal contribution
posted on 02.09.2015, 00:00 by Nishantha Kalutharage, Chae S. Yi
A cationic ruthenium hydride complex, [(C6H6)­(PCy3)­(CO)­RuH]+BF4 (1), with a phenol ligand was found to exhibit high catalytic activity for the hydrogenolysis of carbonyl compounds to yield the corresponding aliphatic products. The catalytic method showed exceptionally high chemoselectivity toward the carbonyl reduction over alkene hydrogenation. Kinetic and spectroscopic studies revealed a strong electronic influence of the phenol ligand on the catalyst activity. The Hammett plot of the hydrogenolysis of 4-methoxyacetophenone displayed two opposite linear slopes for the catalytic system 1/p-X-C6H4OH (ρ = −3.3 for X = OMe, t-Bu, Et, and Me; ρ = +1.5 for X = F, Cl, and CF3). A normal deuterium isotope effect was observed for the hydrogenolysis reaction catalyzed by 1/p-X-C6H4OH with an electron-releasing group (kH/kD = 1.7–2.5; X = OMe, Et), whereas an inverse isotope effect was measured for 1/p-X-C6H4OH with an electron-withdrawing group (kH/kD = 0.6–0.7; X = Cl, CF3). The empirical rate law was determined from the hydrogenolysis of 4-methoxyacetophenone: rate = kobsd[Ru]­[ketone]­[H2]−1 for the reaction catalyzed by 1/p-OMe-C6H4OH, and rate = kobsd[Ru]­[ketone]­[H2]0 for the reaction catalyzed by 1/p-CF3-C6H4OH. Catalytically relevant dinuclear ruthenium hydride and hydroxo complexes were synthesized, and their structures were established by X-ray crystallography. Two distinct mechanistic pathways are presented for the hydrogenolysis reaction on the basis of these kinetic and spectroscopic data.