Route to waste-free oxidation of alcohols jointly discovered by scholars at IASBS and CNR

The new nanostructured electrode (ZEmOEl) developed by scholars in Iran and Italy12-Sept-2018 - Organic Process Research & Development publishes online new findings opening the route to waste-free oxidation of alcohols into valued carbonyl compounds using electricity only.

Developed in the context of Mina Ghahremani’s international doctorate in organic chemistry at the Institute for Advanced and Studies in Basic Sciences (IASBS), Zanjan, Iran, under the joint supervision of Prof. Babak Karimi and Dr Pagliaro in Italy, the new sol-gel electrode material might be used to further green a synthetic process (the catalytic oxidation of alcohols) that has seen remarkable advances in the course of the last two decades.

The first sol-gel electrode based on organosilica functionalized with the TEMPO moiety was reported in 2006 by the Italy's scholars, but it was only in 2015 that the first practically useful electrode was described in pioneering work by Iran's scholars at IASBS. The latter electrode enabled unprecedented turnover frequencies (TOF) of up to 3070 h−1, considerably higher than TOF reported until then for nitroxyl radicals under chemical, electrochemical, or aerobic oxidation conditions. Alas, the electrode showed poor catalytic stability.

The new nanostructured electrode now reported in OPRD, called by the joint team "ZEmOEl" namely Zero-Emission Oxidation Electrode, conjugates similar high selective activity with unprecedented stability.

"As remarked by Professor Kevin Moeller", said in a comment Professor Karimi, "when electricity to accomplish the oxidation originates from photovoltaic modules or wind farms, as it is increasingly the case in many regions of the world, these electrodes will enable to carry out a most important synthetic transformation with solar energy only".

"Enabling the use of solar energy to multiple new processes" adds Dr Pagliaro, who is also a distinguished scholar in solar energy, "has been amongst our key research objectives during our twenty years of research efforts in Sicily".

The elegant electrochemical alcohol oxidation mediated by TEMPO-like nitroxyl radicals has been reviewed by the international team in an open access study published in 2017 by ChemistryOpen.

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