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Selective Ruthenium-Catalyzed Transformation of Carbon Dioxide: An Alternative Approach toward Formaldehyde

Siebert, Max, Seibicke, Max, Siegle, Alexander F., Kräh, Sabrina, Trapp, Oliver
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2018 v.141 no.1 pp. 334-341
carbon dioxide, catalysts, formaldehyde, formates, hydrogen, methanol, oxidation, ruthenium, screening, temperature
Formaldehyde is an important precursor to numerous industrial processes and is produced in multimillion ton scale every year by catalytic oxidation of methanol in an energetically unfavorable and atom-inefficient industrial process. In this work, we present a highly selective one-step synthesis of a formaldehyde derivative starting from carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas utilizing a homogeneous ruthenium catalyst. Here, formaldehyde is obtained as dimethoxymethane, its dimethyl acetal, by selective reduction of carbon dioxide at moderate temperatures (90 °C) and partial pressures (90 bar H₂/20 bar CO₂) in the presence of methanol. Besides the desired product, only methyl formate is formed, which can be transformed to dimethoxymethane in a consecutive catalytic step. By comprehensive screening of the catalytic system, maximum turnover numbers of 786 for dimethoxymethane and 1290 for methyl formate were achieved with remarkable selectivities of over 90% for dimethoxymethane.