The Chemical Catalysis Program supports the research of Professor Dean M. Roddick of the University of Wyoming on the development of perfluoroalkylated phosphine (PFAP) metal complex catalysts for the efficient conversion of simple hydrocarbon feedstocks to useful products. Specific challenges for investigation are the selective dehydrogenation of alkanes and tandem oxidation of alkanes to alcohols and ketones, as well as the controlled oligomerization of fluoroolefins. A key feature of PFAP systems is their unique air- and moisture-stability, which allows metal reaction centers to carry out fundamental C-H and C-C bond forming steps under stringent oxidative and hydrolytic conditions. Density Functional Theory (DFT) studies further suggest that group 10 metal PFAP systems are particularly well-suited to novel fluoroolefin oligomerization and polymerization chemistry.
This award will provide a twofold impact on the larger community. First, this research project addresses several critically important and unrealized research challenges in catalysis. Discovery of practical and efficient conversion methodologies from abundant hydrocarbon feedstocks to useful chemical precursors and feedstocks would transform chemical industry, improve atom economy and increase synthetic efficiencies. Second, Professor Roddick's research group trains not only graduate and undergraduate students as future professionals in catalysis research, but also spearheads outreach to community colleges throughout Wyoming through visits and workshops, and also collaborates and contributes to the newly-formed School of Energy Resources at the University of Wyoming.