Following recent progress towards understanding the structure of the particulate methane monooxygenase in methanotrophic bacteria, it is now possible to attempt the development of laboratory catalysts for the conversion of methane into MeOH under ambient conditions. To this end, a class of tricopper complexes that are capable of efficiently oxidizing small hydrocarbon substrates at room temperature has recently been developed. In this Minireview, we describe the development of a tricopper cluster to accomplish the catalytic conversion of methane into MeOH, as well as a number of small n-alkanes into their corresponding alcohols and ketones, with high efficiencies. The properties of this robust catalytic system are discussed.
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