An investigation into air stable analogues of Wilkinson's catalyst.
Since the discovery of Wilkinson’s catalyst and its usefulness in the homogeneous hydrogenation of olefins many investigations have been carried out on trivalent, tertiary phosphine–rhodium complexes.¹ Studies have shown that N-Heterocyclic carbenes as ligands offer increased stability to the complex and possess similar electronic properties as phosphine ligands.² The applications of the traditional catalyst are limited due to the limited stability of its solutions and its susceptibility to attack from the environment i.e. oxygen and moisture. The hydrogenation of olefins and other unsaturated compound is of great importance for the fine chemical and petroleum industries. The aim is to produce more stable and active versions of the traditional catalyst and also to demonstrate their improved stability and activity in catalytic applications. This study involves the investigation of the effects of ligand modification on Wilkinson type hydrogenation catalysts. Five Rhodium-phosphine complexes 1a: Rh(PPh₃)₃Cl, 1b: Rh(PPh₂Me)₃Cl, 1c: Rh(PPh₂Et)₃Cl, 1d: Rh(PPhMe₂)₃Cl, 1e: Rh(PPhMe₂)₃Cl have been synthesised and characterised by means of melting point,¹H NMR, ¹³C NMR, ³¹P NMR, IR and Mass Spectroscopy. Complexes 1d and 1e have also been characterised by means of elemental analysis and single crystal XRD. Five rhodium-N-heterocyclic carbene complexes 2a: Rh(COD)ImesCl [Imes =1,3-bis(2,4,6-trimethylphenyl)imidazol-2-ylidene] , 2b: Rh(COD)(diisopropylphenyl)₂Cl 2c: Rh(COD)(adamantyl)²Cl, 2d: Rh(COD)(diisopropyl)²Cl 2e: Rh(COD)(ditertbutyl)²Cl have been synthesised and characterised by means of melting point, ¹H NMR, ¹³C NMR, IR and Mass Spectroscopy. Five rhodium-NHC-CO complexes 3a: Rh(CO)₂ImesCl, 3b: Rh(CO)₂(diisopropylphenyl)₂Cl, 3c: Rh(CO)₂(adamantyl)₂Cl , 3d: Rh(CO)₂(diisopropyl)₂Cl, 3e: Rh(CO)₂(ditertbutyl)₂Cl, have been synthesised and characterised by means of ¹H NMR, ¹³C NMR, IR and Mass Spectroscopy. Complexes 1a, 1d, 1e, 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 2e were tested in the hydrogenation of simple alkenes under mild conditions. For the rhodium-phosphine complexes the catalyst efficiency based on TOF increases in the following order: 1a > 1d > 1e or RhCl₃(PPhMe₂)₃ > RhCl₃(PPhEt₂)₃ > RhCl(PPh₃)₃. For the rhodium-(COD)-NHC complexes catalyst efficiency based on TOF increases in the following order: 2d > 2b > 2e > 2a > 2c. While rhodium-phosphine complexes are far more active than rhodium-(COD)-NHC complexes, the latter seem to be active for a longer time and hence more stable under mild hydrogenation conditions.