Organometallic Homogeneous Catalysis—Quo vadis?

Authors

  • Prof. Dr. Wolfgang A. Herrmann,

    Corresponding author
    1. Anorganisch-chemisches Institut der Technischen Universität München, Lichtenbergstrasse 4, D-85747 Garching (Germany), Fax: Int. code +(89) 289-13473, e-mail: herrmann@zaphod.anorg.chemie.tu-muenchen.de
    • Anorganisch-chemisches Institut der Technischen Universität München, Lichtenbergstrasse 4, D-85747 Garching (Germany), Fax: Int. code +(89) 289-13473, e-mail: herrmann@zaphod.anorg.chemie.tu-muenchen.de
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  • Prof. Dr. Boy Cornils

    Corresponding author
    1. Hoechst AG, Postfach 800320, D-65926 Frankfurt (Germany), Fax: Int. code +(69) 305-83128
    • Hoechst AG, Postfach 800320, D-65926 Frankfurt (Germany), Fax: Int. code +(69) 305-83128
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  • “Organometallic Homogeneous Catalysis—Where Now?”: revised and updated version of chapter 4.1 from ref. [26a], pp. 1167–1197. Essays on Organometallic Chemistry, part. 8, Part 7: W. A. Herrmann, J. Organomet. Chem.1995, 500, 149–174.

  • In memory of Sir Geoffroy Wilkinson, a true pioneer of organometallic chemistry and catalysis

Abstract

Homogeneous catalysis is the success story of organometallic chemistry. Otto Roelen's initial discovery of hydroformylation in 1938 not only entailed large-capacity production plants but was later followed by systematic research into the catalytic chemistry of the ever-growing class of organometallic compounds. Further developments in industrial chemistry towards clean, low-temperature, low-pressure, and economic processes—in feedstock or in the fine chemicals and polymer area—clearly depend on improved catalysts. Molecularly defined, tailor-made structures are the safest prerequisites for chemical selectivity; hence, organometallic compounds with their overwhelming variety of compositions and structures offer the most promising approach. Wilkinson's catalysts [HRh(CO){P(C6H5)3] and [ClRh{P(C6H5)}3}3] are outstanding examples. On the other hand, process technology has to be considered also (for example catalyst-product separation and hear-exchange problems). The following review attempts to critically assess the future trends and present demands in the applied area of orgnometallic catalysis–a “gentle art” that is far from being a mature field.

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