Developing homogeneous organometallic catalysts for the hydrogenolysis of common polyolefins into high quality alkane products
Podd, Emily A.
O'Connor, Abby R.
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Polyolefins are durable, heat-resistant, low-cost, nontoxic, single-use plastics, which makes them a fundamental material for sterile packaging, storage, and transport. They are formed by abundant and simple olefin hydrocarbons. However, they are non-biodegradable due to C(sp3)-C(sp3) bonds, hydrophobic properties, and lack of polar bonds. Approximately 380 million tons of plastics are produced annually with 57% consisting of polyolefins. Heterogeneous catalysts are the current standard for hydrogenation of polyolefins. There are few examples of homogeneous catalysts despite them being more easily tailored through ligand design. Ruthenium [PNN] pincer catalysts show promise in recycling of plastic waste. The objectives of this study are 1) to develop homogeneous catalysts via [NNN] pincer ligands with high activity and selectivity for the hydrogenation of polyolefins under mild conditions; and 2) to examine relationship between microwave and thermal conditions to synthesize [NNN] pincer ligands.
Department of Chemistry
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