Aerobic Oxidation of Cyclic Amines to Lactams Catalyzed by Ceria-Supported Nanogold

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2016-11-01
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Dairo, Taiwo
Nelson, Nicholas
Angelici, Robert
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Slowing, Igor
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Ames National Laboratory

Ames National Laboratory is a government-owned, contractor-operated national laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), operated by and located on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

For more than 70 years, the Ames National Laboratory has successfully partnered with Iowa State University, and is unique among the 17 DOE laboratories in that it is physically located on the campus of a major research university. Many of the scientists and administrators at the Laboratory also hold faculty positions at the University and the Laboratory has access to both undergraduate and graduate student talent.

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The oxidative transformation of cyclic amines to lactams, which are important chemical feedstocks, is efficiently catalyzed by CeO2-supported gold nanoparticles (Au/CeO2) and Aerosil 200 in the presence of an atmosphere of O2. The complete conversion of pyrrolidine was achieved in 6.5 h at 160 °C, affording a 97 % yield of the lactam product 2-pyrrolidone (γ-butyrolactam), while 2-piperidone (δ-valerolactam) was synthesized from piperidine (83 % yield) in 2.5 h. Caprolactam, the precursor to the commercially important nylon-6, was obtained from hexamethyleneimine in 37 % yield in 3 h. During the oxidation of pyrrolidine, two transient species, 5-(pyrrolidin-1-yl)-3,4-dihydro-2H-pyrrole (amidine-5) and 4-amino-1-(pyrrolidin-1-yl)butan-1-one, were observed. Both of these compounds were oxidized to 2-pyrrolidone under catalytic conditions, indicating their role as intermediates in the reaction pathway. In addition to the reactions of cyclic secondary amines, Au/CeO2 also efficiently catalyzes the oxidation of N-methyl cyclic tertiary amines to the corresponding lactams at 80 and 100 °C.

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