Prof. Bartosz Trzaskowski and Dr Juan Pablo Martinez from the Centre for New Technologies at the University of Warsaw (UW) participated in the creation of a new class of ruthenium catalysts relevant to ethenolysis – one of the most efficient processes by which compounds generated in petroleum processing can be obtained from vegetable oils.
Chemical catalysis is the phenomenon of accelerating a chemical reaction. It involves the addition of a small amount of a substance (catalyst) to a system, which does not undergo a permanent transformation, but forms compounds or transition complexes with other substrates. Catalytic reactions reduce waste, saving time and energy.
“From a chemical point of view, catalysis involves changing the kinetic pathway of a reaction by lowering its activation energy and forming transition complexes that are different from the reaction carried out in a non-catalytic manner. As a result, both the reaction leading to the product and the one running in the opposite direction, leading to the reconstitution of substrates, are accelerated”, says Prof Bartosz Trzaskowski, who, together with Dr Juan Pablo Martinez, co-authored a publication on the subject in the scientific journal Journal of the American Chemical Society.
The scientists point out that, in most cases, the mechanism of the catalysed reaction is complex and the catalysis itself is a multi-step process.
The scientists carrying out the project primarily wanted to develop new, efficient catalysts for ethenolysis, a chemical process in which internal olefins (compounds with at least one C=C double bond) are degraded using ethylene as a reagent.
Etenolysis is one of the most efficient processes by which compounds customarily obtained in petroleum processing can be obtained from vegetable oils.
A new class of ruthenium catalysts, designed and synthesised in collaboration with Polish scientists, has shown excellent properties in the context of catalysing the ethenolysis reaction.