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Selective oxidation using In situ-generated hydrogen peroxide

Lewis, Richard J. and Hutchings, Graham J. ORCID: 2024. Selective oxidation using In situ-generated hydrogen peroxide. Accounts of Chemical Research 57 (1) , 106–119. 10.1021/acs.accounts.3c00581

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Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) for industrial applications is manufactured through an indirect process that relies on the sequential reduction and reoxidation of quinone carriers. While highly effective, production is typically centralized and entails numerous energy-intensive concentration steps. Furthermore, the overhydrogenation of the quinone necessitates periodic replacement, leading to incomplete atom efficiency. These factors, in addition to the presence of propriety stabilizing agents and concerns associated with their separation from product streams, have driven interest in alternative technologies for chemical upgrading. The decoupling of oxidative transformations from commercially synthesized H2O2 may offer significant economic savings and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for several industrially relevant processes. Indeed, the production and utilization of the oxidant in situ, from the elements, would represent a positive step toward a more sustainable chemical synthesis sector, offering the potential for total atom efficiency, while avoiding the drawbacks associated with current industrial routes, which are inherently linked to commercial H2O2 production. Such interest is perhaps now more pertinent than ever given the rapidly improving viability of green hydrogen production. The application of in situ-generated H2O2 has been a long-standing goal in feedstock valorization, with perhaps the most significant interest placed on propylene epoxidation. Until very recently a viable in situ alternative to current industrial oxidative processes has been lacking, with prior approaches typically hindered by low rates of conversion or poor selectivity toward desired products, often resulting from competitive hydrogenation reactions. Based on over 20 years of research, which has led to the development of catalysts for the direct synthesis of H2O2 that offer high synthesis rates and >99% H2 utilization, we have recently turned our attention to a range of oxidative transformations where H2O2 is generated and utilized in situ. Indeed, we have recently demonstrated that it is possible to rival state-of-the-art industrial processes through in situ H2O2 synthesis, establishing the potential for significant process intensification and considerable decarbonization of the chemical synthesis sector. We have further established the potential of an in situ route to both bulk and fine chemical synthesis through a chemo-catalytic/enzymatic one-pot approach, where H2O2 is synthesized over heterogeneous surfaces and subsequently utilized by a class of unspecific peroxygenase enzymes for C–H bond functionalization. Strikingly, through careful control of the chemo-catalyst, it is possible to ensure that competitive, nonenzymatic pathways are inhibited while also avoiding the regiospecific and selectivity concerns associated with current energy-intensive industrial processes, with further cost savings associated with the operation of the chemo-enzymatic approach at near-ambient temperatures and pressures. Beyond traditional applications of chemo-catalysis, the efficacy of in situ-generated H2O2 (and associated oxygen-based radical species) for the remediation of environmental pollutants has also been a major interest of our laboratory, with such technology offering considerable improvements over conventional disinfection processes. We hope that this Account, which highlights the key contributions of our laboratory to the field over recent years, demonstrates the chemistries that may be unlocked and improved upon via in situ H2O2 synthesis and it inspires broader interest from the scientific community.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Chemistry
Cardiff Catalysis Institute (CCI)
Publisher: American Chemical Society
ISSN: 0001-4842
Funders: Max Planck Centre for Fundamental Heterogeneous Catalysis (FUNCAT)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 21 December 2023
Date of Acceptance: 4 December 2023
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2024 15:01

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