New Research


Philosophers’ Stone

— aiming towards environmentally friendly organic syntheses —

Kiyotomi KANEDA, Professor

Catalyst invariably contributes to our quality of life by producing useful chemical materials and cleaning up air, water, and exhaust gas. The role of catalyst is to convert molecules into the desired products by selective scission and recombination of the chemical bonds within the molecules. Therefore, catalyst can be called as present day’s “Philosophers’ Stone“.
We have been developing heterogeneous catalysts using unique properties of hydroxyapatite, the main component of teeth and bone. The surface Ca ions of HAP, Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2, are facilely substituted with Ru to afford a monomeric phosphateruthenium complex (RuHAP) by means of fine structural analysis using X-ray adsorption method at SPring-8 facility.
The RuHAP catalyst is capable of converting various alcohols to the corresponding carbonyl compounds selectively under an atmospheric O2 pressure.
The selective oxidation of alcohols is one of the most fundamental transformations in organic synthesis. Oxidizing reagents such as chromium oxide and permanganate have been employed to accomplish this transformation, but these stoichiometric reagents often result in the production of a vast amount of hazardous wastes. Ever-growing economical and environmental concerns have increased a demand for highly efficient heterogeneous catalytic protocols. The RuHAP as “Philosophers’ Stone” is now commercially available as a clean, safe, and simple alcohol oxidation catalyst in combination with an atmospheric pressure of molecular oxygen, yielding only water as a co-product.
We have also developed other high-performance nano-structured catalysts toward environmentally-benign organic transformations.

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