Up-goer summary: “To show an easy change of small matter from one type to another for helping the world to make new things.”
Chris Hill is a third year student in the College of Chemistry. He’s been working on identifying and developing a new transition metal catalyst for alcohol oxidation. The catalyst uses acetone as a hydrogen acceptor, overcoming the need for of toxic (e.g. Cr(VI)) or expensive (e.g. periodinane) stoichiometric reagents for this simple reaction. The isopropanol side product is easily removed from the target product and is a recyclable chemical (the hydrogen is not lost).
The reaction is especially useful for selective alcohol oxidation in complicated molecules (e.g. natural products), where toxic and expensive reagents have usually been the only option. “These studies are aimed at advancing the basic science of hydrogen transfer between molecules, Hill says, “and the ability to perform multi-step reactions in one pot with a minimum of waste generation. ” His project demonstrates that environmentally friendly reactions can actually be more useful than older, more wasteful procedures.
A second effort he’s working on involves collaborating with toxicologists to investigate the metabolism and toxicity of furan derivatives. Furans are derivatives of common sugars, and potential industrial green chemicals.
Good Green Idea Recommendation:
The The Kanan Lab at Stanford has shown in some detail that the grain boundaries between crystalline zones in metal nanoparticles are the catalytically active regions for carbon dioxide reduction using electricity (to carbon monoxide). This will help in the design of new materials for this difficult reaction.