Institution: University of Toronto
Researcher: Dr. Robert Morris
Funded $50,000 by GreenCentre Canada
Hydrogenation is one of the most important chemical transformations in the chemical industry, widely used in the synthesis of fine chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and a large variety of bulk and specialty chemical products. Typically, these reactions are carried out using catalysts containing metals that are toxic or quite scarce and therefore not environmentally friendly. Although effective, these catalysts are often expensive and leave trace amounts of metal in the final product. Environmental regulations to reduce the use of these metals are increasing and are making the concept of cheaper and “greener” catalysts a priority focus area for this industry.
Dr. Robert Morris of the University of Toronto has developed a class of exceptionally active iron-based hydrogenation catalysts. Iron has a very low toxicity profile and is inexpensive and abundant. Consequently, this technology offers a green and inexpensive solution to the expensive precious metal-containing catalysts traditionally used in hydrogenation. These greener catalysts have shown to be highly efficient in the production of a variety of alcohols and amines, important compounds in bulk and fine chemicals production, as well as finding pharma and agrochemical applications.
GreenCentre Canada has funded Dr. Morris with a Proof of Principle grant in the amount of $50,00 to support the development of second-generation catalysts and to further develop the commercial potential of these systems. "The investment by GreenCentre will support improving and validating the technology for use in real applications,” says Cyril Gibbons, Director, Business Development and Commercialization at University of Toronto’s Innovation & Partnerships Office. “This adds substantial value to the technology and will greatly increase the opportunities for successful commercialization.”
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