In nature, deceptively simple substrates are often chemically stable, but metallo-enzymes that contain first row transition metals in their active sites can convert these substrates. Ammonia is one example of such a non-reactive small molecule. The purpose of this research is to transform ammonia into a substrate for the preparation of useful organic chemicals as the building blocks for pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and polymers.
In synthetic organic chemistry and organometallic catalysis, great strides have been made in activating the enthalpically strong bonds found in small molecules, and furthermore, doing this catalytically. However, the methods developed have almost exclusively used heavy second- and third row transition metals, usually from the platinum group metals.
The activation mechanisms of transition metals in the first row are much less known. “However, their use could achieve many benefits, including lower cost and toxicity and better availability. So the goal of exploiting these lightweight transition metals is certainly justified, but the challenge is their complex reactivity,” says Associate Professor Daniela Bezuidenhout.
She has worked in the Environmental and Chemical Engineering Research Unit of the University of Oulu since last year. “The grant I received from the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation is an excellent start to set up a research group in this field. It addresses a long-standing challenge in the field of chemistry and is a very exciting opportunity for myself and the new members of the research team we are recruiting,” says Daniela Bezuidenhout.
Last updated: 30.6.2020