Scientists pioneer new low-temperature chemical conversion process

ScienceDaily | 4/3/2019 | Staff
In a recent study from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, chemists have identified a way to convert cyclohexane to cyclohexene or cyclohexadiene, important chemicals in a wide range of industrial processes. Importantly, this process takes place at low temperatures, eliminating the creation of carbon dioxide that would have resulted from an unwanted breaking of carbon-carbon bonds.

Cyclohexane is an important starting molecule in a wide range of chemical reactions, according to Argonne chemist Stefan Vajda, now at the J. Heyrovský Institute of Physical Chemistry in Prague. However, without a suitable catalyst to initiate the reaction, converting cyclohexane into useful products typically requires elevated temperatures generated through the expenditure of a great deal of energy, and the process may suffer from poor selectivity as well.

Study - Vajda - Argonne - Chemist - Larry

In the study, Vajda and Argonne chemist Larry Curtiss and their international team of collaborators examined a type of reaction called oxidative dehydrogenation, in which hydrogen molecules are stripped off a larger molecule. By cutting a limited number of hydrogen-carbon bonds, the reaction can produce cyclohexene and cyclohexadiene before combustion to carbon dioxide takes place.

The work improved on previous studies by the Argonne team on the dehydrogenation of cyclohexane and cyclohexene by introducing two key components: a sub-nanometer-sized cobalt oxide catalyst on an aluminum oxide support and a controlled oxygen environment.

Researchers - Scattering - Techniques - Argonne - Advanced

The researchers employed X-ray scattering techniques at Argonne's Advanced Photon Source (APS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility, to monitor the nature and stability of the catalysts during the catalytic testing of the clusters in real time. They discovered that the clusters carried out partial dehydrogenation of the cyclohexane at temperatures right around 100 degrees Celsius -- far lower than had been previously observed for this kind of reaction, and the clusters retained their oxidized nature...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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