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Development of sustainable selective catalytic oxidation of alkanes (Oxalkanes)
Start date: Apr 1, 2010, End date: Mar 31, 2013 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Saturated hydrocarbons are chemically inert and therefore their functionalisation is challenging from a basic science viewpoint. The development of selective, energy efficient direct alkane oxidation chemistry could lead to environmentally and economically superior chemical processes and allow the vast reserves of natural gas and petrol to be used more efficiently and economically as feedstocks for fuels and chemical products. Like the active centres of some enzymes, transition metal complexes can potentially activate and functionalise the non-activated C-H bonds of hydrocarbons with high atom economy and low energy under mild reaction conditions. There is also an urgent need to increase the sustainability of homogeneous phase reactions and to develop practical, efficient and low energy immobilisation methods for homogeneous catalysts, as well as to develop and use new, cheaper and more environmentally acceptable solid supports. This project comprises the synthesis and characterisation of transition metal coordination compounds with very versatile and biomimetic polydentate ligands and their application as selective homogeneous catalysts in the oxidation reactions of alkanes under mild conditions and using several oxygen sources. The use of a microwave technology to carry out these reactions could also lead to increases in product yields and selectivities, as well as being more energy-efficient compared to conventional heating methods. To improve the sustainability of these homogeneous catalysts in the catalytic oxidation of alkanes several porous silica and carbonaceous materials will be used as catalysts supports. The use of microwave-activated loading onto these supports will be also tested as a more energy-efficient and a more selective technique than more conventional heating methods.
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