Supported Organoactinide Complexes as Heterogeneous Catalysts. A Kinetic and Mechanistic Study of Facile Arene Hydrogenation

Moris S. Eisen, Tobin J. Marks*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


This contribution reports a kinetic and mechanistic study of arene hydrogenation by the supported organoactinide complexes Cp′Th(benzyl)3/DA (1/DA), Th(1,3,5-CH2C6H3Me2)4/DA (2/DA), and Th(η3-allyl)4/DA (3/DA) where Cp′ =η5-Me5C5 and DA = dehydroxylated γ-alumina. In slurry reactions (90 °C, PH2 = 180 psi), the activity for benzene hydrogenation follows the order 1/DA< 2/DA<3/DA with an Nt, value for 3/DA of ~25000 h-1 active site-1. This approaches or exceeds most conventional platinum metal catalysts in efficacy for benzene reduction. Benzene hydrogenation by 3/DA at 90 °C, PH2 = 180 psi, follows the rate law Nt = v[benzene]0[PH2]1 with Nt(H2)/Nt,(D2) = 3.5 ± 0.3 and Ea = 16.7 ± 0.3 kcal mol-1. Partially hydrogenation products cannot be detected at partial conversions, and there is no D2 incorporated in the unconverted benzene. D2 is not delivered to a single benzene face, but rather a 1:3 mixture of all-cis and cis,cis,trans,cis,trans isotopomers is formed. Active site characterizations using D2O poisoning, hydrogenolysis, and CH3Cl dosing indicate that ⩽8 ± 1% of the Th surface sites are responsible for the bulk of the benzene hydrogenation. EPR and XPS studies provide no evidence for surface Th oxidation states less than +4. As a function of arene, the relative rates of Th(η3-C3H5)4/DA-catalyzed hydrogenation are benzene > toluene > p-xylene > naphthalene, with the regiochemistry of p-xylene reduction similar to that for benzene. Experiments with 1:1 benzene-p-xylene mixtures reveal that benzene is preferentially hydrogenated with almost complete exclusion of p-xylene (~97:3), inferring that the benzene binding constant to the active sites is ~6.7× that of p-xylene. It is possible to propose a mechanism for arene hydrogenation which involves single Th(IV) sites, includes inoperativity of oxidation addition/reductive elimination sequences, and passes among established metal-ligand structures via precedented pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10358-10368
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number26
StatePublished - 1 Dec 1992
Externally publishedYes


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