How frustrated Lewis pairs contribute to catalytic activation of hydrogen

Dr. Andrew Ashley of Imperial College London receives the BASF Catalysis Award 2015

16-Jun-2015 - Germany

For his outstanding research contributions to the catalytic activation of hydrogen, Dr. Andrew Ashley, Research Fellow of the Department of Chemistry of Imperial College London is receiving the BASF catalysis Award 2015. The prize worth €10,000 is awarded biannually to young researchers. The award is being presented today by Dr. Peter Schuhmacher, head of BASF’s research unit Process Research and Chemical Engineering, at the “Heidelberg Forum of Molecular Catalysis”, a meeting of international experts organized jointly by Heidelberg University and BASF SE.

“Catalysis is an indispensable key technology for the chemical industry. For example, it is crucial in helping our production methods to become even more energy-efficient or tapping into new raw material sources,” emphasizes Schuhmacher. As a company with a worldwide leading technology platform for researching and developing catalysts, BASF attaches particular importance to sponsoring outstanding young researchers in this field.

To promote the reactivity of the hydrogen molecule, Andrew Ashley is working with non-metallic components like amines or Lewis acidic organoboranes. Because of steric hindrance, these Lewis acids and bases cannot neutralize each other, resulting in the formation of “frustrated Lewis pairs” (FLP). Many FLPs are capable of splitting hydrogen heterolytically. Besides his work on thermally and hydrolytically stable FLPs, Ashley is also searching for new metal-based systems for the reversible cleavage of hydrogen. These new strategies could contribute to a more sustainable design of classical industrial processes such as hydrogenations.

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