Direct functionalization of alkanes by oxidation of C-H bonds to form alcohols under mild conditions is a challenge for synthetic chemistry. Most alkanes contain a large number of C-H bonds that present difficulties for selectivity, and the oxidants employed often result in overoxidation. Here we describe a divanadium-substituted phosphotungstate that catalyses the stereo- and regioselective hydroxylation of alkanes with hydrogen peroxide as the sole oxidant. Both cyclic and acyclic alkanes were oxidized to form alcohols with greater than 96% selectivity. The bulky polyoxometalate framework of the catalyst results in an unusual selectivity that can lead to the oxidation of secondary rather than the weaker tertiary C-H bonds. The catalyst also avoids wasteful decomposition of the stoichiometric oxidant, which can result in the production of hydroxyl radicals and lead to non-selective oxidation and overoxidation of the desired products.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)