Synthesis, characterization, and evaluation of silica and polymer supported catalysts for the production of fine chemicals
Shiels, Rebecca Anne
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Catalysis is an important field of study in chemical engineering and chemistry due to its application in a vast number of chemical transformations. Traditionally, catalysts have been developed as homogeneous molecular species or as heterogeneous insoluble materials. While homogeneous catalysts are typically very active and selective, they are difficult to recover. Conversely, heterogeneous catalysts are easy to recover and reuse, but they generally are less selective. To address these issues, the immobilization of homogeneous catalyst analogs onto solid supports has been a subject of research for the past few decades. Nonetheless, the effects of immobilization are still not completely predictable, and so continued effort is required to develop new immobilized catalysts as well as to develop a better understanding of how different parameters affect catalytic behavior. This dissertation presents the synthesis, characterization, and evaluation of new immobilized catalysts for different applications. First, a solid base catalyst supported on silica was developed and studied in the synthesis of cyclic carbonates from epoxides and carbon dioxide. Next, polymer and silica supported vanadium Schiff base catalysts were developed and evaluated for use in the oxidative kinetic resolution of alpha-hydroxy esters, an enantioselective reaction. Lastly, salen catalyst analogs with amine reactive functional groups were synthesized and characterized for grafting onto aminosilicas with different degrees of amine group isolation. The grafted catalysts were then tested to determine how catalyst spacing on the surface affects their behavior. Throughout the presentation of these results, comparisons are made amongst the new supported catalysts and relevant existing catalysts to discern general trends which could be applied to a wider range of immobilized catalysts. Finally, research opportunities for further improvements in these areas are suggested.