Resin-supported iridium complex for low-temperature vanillin hydrogenation using formic acid in water

RSC Adv. 2021 Apr 28;11(26):15835-15840. doi: 10.1039/d1ra01460a. eCollection 2021 Apr 26.


Biorefinery seeks to utilize biomass waste streams as a source of chemical precursors with which to feed the chemical industry. This goal seeks to replace petroleum as the main feedstock, however this task requires the development of efficient catalysts capable of transforming substances derived from biomass into useful chemical products. In this study, we demonstrate that a highly-active iridium complex can be solid-supported and used as a low-temperature catalyst for both the decomposition of formic acid (FA) to produce hydrogen, and as a hydrogenation catalyst to produce vanillyl alcohol (VA) and 2-methoxy-4-methylphenol (MMP) from vanillin (V); a lignin-derived feedstock. These hydrogenation products are promising precursors for epoxy resins and thus demonstrate an approach for their production without the need for petroleum. In contrast to other catalysts that require temperatures exceeding 100 °C, here we accomplish this at a temperature of <50 °C in water under autogenous pressure. This approach provides an avenue towards biorefinery with lower energy demands, which is central to the decentralization and broad implementation. We found that the high activity of the iridium complex transfers to the solid-support and is capable of accelerating the rate determining step; the decomposition of FA into hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The yield of both VA and MMP can be independently tuned depending on the temperature. The simplicity of this approach expands the utility of molecular metal complexes and provides new catalyst opportunities in biorefinery.

PMID:35481198 | PMC:PMC9030846 | DOI:10.1039/d1ra01460a


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