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Base Metal Catalysts for Reduction of Challenging Unsaturated Molecules

Reduction of unsaturated organic molecules is one of the most fundamental transformations in organic synthetic chemistry relevant to production of both commodity and fine chemical products. Whereas stoichiometric reduction reactions often require the use of rather strong reductants and, therefore, have associated selectivity issues, catalytic reductions by means of hydrogenation, hydrosilylation and hydroboration present more atom economic and selective alternatives to conventional stoichiometric methods. Similarly with many other homogeneous catalytic transformations, the conventional catalytic systems for reduction reactions are mostly based on precious metals, the 2nd and 3rd row elements of groups 8-10. Due to the skyrocketing prices of these elements one of the attractive research venues in this area is transferring the reactivity of such catalysts to more economical and "greener" first-row metal surrogates, those involving base-metals: Fe, Co, Ni. Our group is interested in development of such well-defined catalytic systems based on Mn, Fe, Co, Ni and other non-precious metals with precious-metal-like reactivity and their applications in chemo-, regio- and stereoselective reduction of challenging (deactivated) substrates bearing unsaturated carbon-heteroatom bonds, such as esters, carboxamides, nitriles, N-hetroaromatic compounds and others. We are also interested in application of catalytic reduction strategies in the synthesis of more complex value added organic molecules and conversion of carbon dioxide to liquid fuels and chemical feedstock.

Base Metal Catalysts for Interconversion of Nitrogen-Containing Organic Functional Groups

Amines and other N-containing organic molecules represent synthetically important classes of compounds, relevant to preparation of many commodity and fine chemicals, synthesis of biologically active molecules and natural products, pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, functional materials and so on. The conventional stoichiometric methods for preparation of amines and their conversion to more complex N-containing organic molecules as well as methods for interconversion of N-containing functional groups often suffer from lack of selectivity, control and functional group tolerance and lead to formation of large amounts of byproducts. On the other hand, the majority of catalytic methods developed for such transformations are based on expensive precious metals and the reactions often require rather harsh conditions, such as high temperatures and long reaction times. We are interested in development of simple and efficient base metal catalysts (those involving Mn, Fe, Co, Ni) for mild and selective synthesis of amines from readily available primary industrial chemicals and for interconversion of different N-containing functional groups and application of this strategy for synthesis of more complex nitrogen-containing organic molecules.     

Base Metal Nanocomposite Materials for Industrial Wastewater Treatment

Using the knowledge acquired from homogeneous catalysis, this project aims at the development of base metal nanocomposite materials (using titanium dioxide, surface modified silica and other supports) for catalytic removal of organic pollutants (for instance, chlorinated hydrocarbons, nitrophenols, etc.) from industrial wastewaters. We are also interested in application of such materials in catalytic conversion of carbon dioxide to liquid fuels.  

Polyaromatic Ligands for Photocatalytic and Electrocatalytic Applications

Polyaromatic ligands play and important role in coordination/organometallic compounds for solar energy harnessing and catalysis, including catalysts with non-innocent redox active ligands. We are interested in design of polyaromatic polydentate ligands based on strongly absorbing chromophores, preparation of their transition metal complexes, investigation of photophysical and photochemical properties of such complexes and their application in photoinduced catalytic reactions and electrocatalysis for reduction of carbon dioxide, production of hydrogen from water and many other processes.

Carbon Dioxide Storage and Sequestration (CSS) Potential in Kazakhstan 

This is a multidisciplinary collaborative project under the Nazarbayev University Collaborative Research Program (CRP) aimed at analyzing the potential of implementation of carbon dioxide storage and sequestration (CSS) technologies in Kazakhstan in Precaspian (post-salt), Karaganda, and Pavlodar Basins. The program is a joint effort of our research group at the Department of Chemistry, Nazarbayev University School of Sciences and Humanities and several research groups from Nazarbayev University School of Mining and Geosciences and Satbayev University (Kazakhstan). The CRP team closely collaborates with KMG Engineering (KazMunayGaz) on the pilot CSS project in precaspian region of Kazakhstan (saline aquifers). Potential of carbon dioxide storage in unminable coal seams is also being investigated. 

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