Development of a Heterogeneous Catalyst for Hydroformylation in Supercritical CO2

EPA Grant Number: R828206
Title: Development of a Heterogeneous Catalyst for Hydroformylation in Supercritical CO2
Investigators: Abraham, Martin A. , Davies, Julian A. , Mason, Mark R.
Institution: University of Toledo
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: July 1, 2000 through June 30, 2003 (Extended to June 30, 2004)
Project Amount: $315,000
RFA: Technology for a Sustainable Environment (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Sustainability


Many industrially important chemical syntheses are carried out commercially in liquid phase, organic solvents and through the use of homogeneous catalysts. The large-scale use of liquid organic solvents has substantial environmental implications, providing the current impetus for the development of alternative, environmentally benign, reaction solvents. Recovery of homogeneous catalysts also may involve the use of organic solvents and those may be eliminated completely if heterogeneous catalysts are used.


This proposal seeks to eliminate potentially hazardous organic solvents through two novel developments:

1. Perform the target reaction in the benign reaction solvent supercritical CO2, and

2. Develop a heterogeneous catalyst for the target reaction.

The use of CO2 as a reaction solvent offers optimal environmental performance because CO2 does not deplete the ozone layer, does not contribute to ground-level smog, and will not contribute to global warming. The use of CO2 by-product from existing commercial and natural sources will ensure that no net increase in global CO2 results from the use of this technology.

One limitation of heterogeneous catalysis has been the inability to control selectivity. We believe, however, that modification of the catalyst and the support for optimization with scCO2 can allow the development of active and selective catalysts for the hydroformylation reaction. Use of supported metal-phosphine ligands will allow control of selectivity, similar to that seen in liquid-phase catalysis. Modification of the catalyst support, and the use of shape-selective catalysts with uniform molecular-size pores, provides further opportunity to achieve selectivity control.

Expected Results:

The work completed through this research will demonstrate the production of commercially important chemical intermediates without the use of organic solvents. The proposed process considers an environmentally benign synthesis that can be adapted for the production of many important chemicals. These process modifications decrease the potential for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emission in large-scale production processes, providing one means for the chemical industry to be responsive to pollution prevention requirements.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 12 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 12 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Green chemistry, sustainable development, environmental chemistry, chemical reaction engineering, CO2 utilization,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Sustainable Industry/Business, Chemical Engineering, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, climate change, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Economics and Business, tropospheric ozone, environmental monitoring, cleaner production, sustainable development, ambient air, VOCs, environmentally benign solvents, hydroformation reaction, hazardous organic solvents, green house gas concentrations, green process systems, supercritical carbon dioxide, alternative solvents, carbon dioxide, chemical reaction systems, solvent substitute, atmospheric pollutant loads, CO2 - based systems, homogeneous catalysis, environmentally benign catalysts, global warming, pollution prevention, source reduction, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), air quality, alternative chemical synthesis, climate variability, environmentally-friendly chemical synthesis, green chemistry, ambient air pollution

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2001
  • 2002
  • 2003
  • Final Report