Faculty Advisor

Boisvert, Luc

Area of Study

Science and Mathematics

Publication Date

Summer 2018


This project aimed to develop tools to increase the sustainability of the pharmaceutical industry. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the largest global markets; and one of the most wasteful. Catalysis has been identified as a key tool in sustainable chemistry. One of the most important catalytic reactions in the pharmaceutical industry is the hydrogenation of carbonyl groups, which traditionally relies on transition metal complexes. These metals are environmentally harmful; this project focuses on synthesizing iron-based hydrogenation catalysts as benign alternatives. In order to form the catalysts, organic ligands need to be attached to iron precursors. Simpler model ligands were tested before attempting to attach the catalytic ligands. Bipyridine, DPPE, and phosphite complexes were tested for attachment onto iron complexes. Bidentate catalytic ligands were not soluble enough and reactions could not be run. This project also initiated the study of tetradentate ligands by synthesizing the catalytic ligand and testing methods for attachment onto iron precursor complexes. Future characterization by x-ray crystallography will be required to determine the structure of the synthesized iron-ligand complexes. Iron-ligand complexes were tested under hydrogenation conditions in order to determine if new iron-based catalysts can be developed.


University of Puget Sound