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Theoretical and Experimental Studies on Reaction Mechanism for Aerobic Alcohol Oxidation by Supported Ruthenium Hydroxide Catalysts

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journal contribution
posted on 24.06.2010, 00:00 by Fumiya Nikaidou, Hiroshi Ushiyama, Kazuya Yamaguchi, Koichi Yamashita, Noritaka Mizuno
The experimentally proposed reaction mechanism for the aerobic alcohol oxidation by supported ruthenium hydroxide catalysts (Ru(OH)x/support, support = TiO2 or Al2O3) is theoretically investigated by means of ab initio quantum chemistry calculations with model catalysts “Ru(OH)3(OH2)3” and “RuCl3(OH2)3” for Ru(OH)x/support and RuClx/support, respectively. The experimentally proposed alcoholate formation and β-hydride elimination steps can be verified. In the case of 2-butanol (as a model substrate), the calculated activation energy for the alcoholate formation step with Ru(OH)3(OH2)3 (27.7 kJ mol−1) is much smaller than that with RuCl3(OH2)3 (123.2 kJ mol−1), showing that the alcoholate formation with Ru(OH)x/support much more easily proceeds than that with RuClx/support. The Ru(OH)x/support catalysts possess both Lewis acid (Ru center) and Brønsted base (OH species) sites on the same metal site. Therefore, the alcoholate formation step can be promoted by the “concerted activation” of an alcohol by the Lewis acid (electron transfer from an alcohol to Ru) and Brønsted base (electron transfer from OH to a hydroxyl proton) sites on Ru(OH)x/support. For the reaction of the hydride species with O2, the coordination of the electron-donating ligands (in particular, an alcohol and OH2) to form the six-coordinated ruthenium monohydride (Ru−H) species is a key to promote the O2 insertion to the hydride species. The electron donation from the ligands to the hydride species can make the Ru−H bond weaker, resulting in lowering the activation energy for the O2 insertion step. Finally, the alcoholate or hydroxide species is regenerated with the formation of H2O2, and the catalytic cycle is completed.