Catalysts for Environmentally Benign Organic Reactions in Water

EPA Grant Number: R826120
Title: Catalysts for Environmentally Benign Organic Reactions in Water
Investigators: RajanBabu, T. V.
Institution: The Ohio State University
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: November 1, 1997 through October 31, 2000 (Extended to November 16, 2001)
Project Amount: $280,000
RFA: Technology for a Sustainable Environment (1997) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Justice , Sustainable and Healthy Communities , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development


Water is the most ubiquitous solvent and the innumerable reactions that sustain life proceeds with miraculous efficiency in this medium. Yet, the use of man-made catalysts that promote organic reactions in water is at its infancy. This proposal deals with research directed towards the development of new and highly selective homogeneous transition metal catalysts for carbon-carbon and carbon-hydrogen bond forming reactions. Such catalysts will be used to explore the potential advantages of homogeneously catalyzed processes run in water. These are: (a) ease of recovery of the catalyst in cases where the product is organic soluble and the reaction is run in a biphasic medium; (b) selective functionalization of water-soluble biomolecules; (c) in selected instances, increased selectivity and catalytic activity. The applicability of these catalysts for activation and fixation of abundantly available materials such as CO, H2, simple olefins, CO2 will be explored.


We plan to use abundantly available carbohydrates as a source of scaffolding for the preparation of ligands. Advantages of carbohydrate-derived ligands for transition metals could be two-fold: in general, carbohydrates are the cheapest, most abundantly available, water-soluble natural products and they are chiral. Based on our previous work, we expect the carbohydrate-derived ligands to deliver high selectivity (including enantioselectivity) in a variety of important reactions such as hydrogenation, hydroformylation and hydrocyanation, all of which are highly efficient reactions that utilize feed stock starting materials. We expect to derive very high value from this chemistry.

Expected Results:

We hope to develop a set of efficient catalysts capable of carrying out C-C and C-H bond-forming reactions in water. Since the emphasis is on achieving high selectivity in the incorporation of feed stock materials, there is significant potential for minimization of byproducts. These important implications for cleaner manufacturing technologies for the production of organic intermediates will be illustrated with specific examples of the synthesis of natural and unnatural amino acids, and widely used antiinflammatory aryl propionic acids.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 23 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 13 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

green chemistry, clean technologies, innovative technology, waste minimization, environmentally conscious manufacturing, pharmaceutical industry., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, Chemical Engineering, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, cleaner production, environmentally conscious manufacturing, transition metal catalysts, environmentally benign water cycles, carbon bond formation, catalysts, green process systems, SIC = pharmaceutical , ligands, pollution prevention, green chemistry

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1998
  • 1999 Progress Report
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • 2001
  • Final Report