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UCR chemists use 'green chemistry' to produce amines, chemical compounds used widely in industry
Date:6/12/2008

RIVERSIDE, Calif. Chemists at UC Riverside have discovered an inexpensive, clean and quick way to prepare amines nitrogen-containing organic compounds derived from ammonia that have wide industrial applications such as solvents, additives, anti-foam agents, corrosion inhibitors, detergents, dyes and bactericides.

Currently, industries produce amines in a costly two-step process that results in massive amounts of byproducts as waste.

"Although there are several methods to prepare amines on laboratory scales, most of them are not suitable for commodity chemical production not only because of the formation of waste materials but also because the cost of the starting substances used to prepare amines is high," said Guy Bertrand, a distinguished professor of chemistry, whose lab made the discovery.

Bertrand explained that, currently, companies use hydrochloric acid, a highly corrosive solution, to produce amines. To generate one ton of amines, manufacturers must discard three tons of byproducts, adding to the overall cost of production.

"Our 'green chemistry' method, however, produces no waste, which makes it inexpensive," Bertrand said. "Moreover, the reaction is a quick one-step reaction, and you need a tiny amount of a catalyst to do the trick." (A catalyst is a substance which increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself being used up in the reaction.)

Study results appear online in Angewandte Chemie. A print version of the research paper will appear soon in the journal as well.

The catalyst in question a gold atom linked to a cyclic alkyl amino carbene or CAAC is a ligand (a special molecule that binds to metals) that Bertrand's lab disco
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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert

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