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Main group element catalysts and bond activation reagents

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Green, low-cost catalysts for noble tasks

Organic borons hold promise as industrial catalysts with potential applications in energy-related technologies.

Industrial Technologies

Research into catalysis is a major field in applied science and involves many areas of chemistry. Catalysts are essential to the production of the most industrially important chemicals. Increasing concerns for the environment are driving industries into greener processes, encouraging research into cleaner and more cost-effective catalysts. Replacing precious metal catalysts with inexpensive, abundant and (in most cases) less toxic main-group elements is at the cutting edge of modern research. Within the EU-funded project MGPCAT (Main group element catalysts and bond activation reagents), scientists investigated anionic boryl ligands to construct complexes that can mimic reactivity of transition metals. Project work led to very promising results. Scientists synthesised novel organic ligands that can be used for the design of polyanionic boryl ligand systems. The team also established novel procedures for efficient synthesis of novel dianionic tetra- and pentadentate ligands that could then be used to prepare species based on boron bromide or boron hydride. Further work is required to transform the bidentate and tridentate ligands to corresponding stannylene complexes and their stoichiometric reactivity to viable catalytic processes. Additionally, MGPCAT developed a novel and more convenient procedure for the preparation of boryl zinc compounds in one step starting from the boron bromide. Results may be groundbreaking given the difficulty in preparing boryl-metal species directly. Organic borons are relatively inexpensive, Earth-abundant metals and are thus rich with possibility for future catalyst development.


Catalysts, organic borons, main-group elements, MGPCAT, boryl ligand

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