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Title:
ELECTROCHEMICAL MONO-HYDROXYTION OF ORGANIC COMPOUNDS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/111264
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention relates to electrocatalytic processes for the formation of formate esters using at least one catalyst or pre-catalyst; wherein the formate ester can be further hydrolyzed.

Inventors:
NEUMANN RONNY (IL)
KHENKIN ALEXANDER (IL)
SOMEKH MIRIAM (IL)
Application Number:
IL2018/051344
Publication Date:
June 13, 2019
Filing Date:
December 10, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
YEDA RES & DEV (IL)
International Classes:
C25B3/02; B01J23/75; C25B1/02
Foreign References:
US3248312A1966-04-26
US4193850A1980-03-18
US3448021A1969-06-03
Other References:
LENNART EBERSON: "Electron-transfer reactions in organic chemistry. 4. A mechanistic study of the oxidation of p-methoxytoluene by 12-tungstocobalt(III)ate ion", JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, vol. 105, no. 10, 1 May 1983 (1983-05-01), pages 3192 - 3199, XP055548211, ISSN: 0002-7863, DOI: 10.1021/ja00348a039
M. BELLER; G. CENTI; L. SUN, CHEMSUSCHEM, vol. 10, 2017, pages 6 - 13
Y. KAWAMATA; M. YAN; Z. LIU; D. H. BAO; J. CHEN; J. T. STARR; P. S. BARAN, J. AM. CHEM. SOC., vol. 139, 2017, pages 7448 - 7451
Q. L. YANG; Y. Q. LI; C. MA; P. FANG; X. J. ZHANG; T. S. MEI, J. AM. CHEM. SOC., vol. 139, 2017, pages 3293 - 3298
A. K. VANNUCCI; Z. CHEN; J. J. CONCEPCION; T. J. MEYER, ACS CATAL., vol. 2, 2012, pages 716 - 719
B. LEE; H. NAITO; T. HIBINO, ANGEW. CHEM. INT. ED., vol. 51, 2012, pages 440 - 444
L. EBERSON, J. AM. CHEM. SOC., vol. 105, 1983, pages 3192 - 3199
E. N GLASS; J. FIELDEN; Z. HUANG; X. XIANG; D. G. MUSAEV; T. LIAN; C. L. HILL, INORG. CHEM., vol. 55, 2016, pages 4308 - 4319
A. K. SINGH; S. SINGH; A. KUMAR, CATAL. SCI. TECH., vol. 6, 2016, pages 12 - 40
BAKER, L. C. W.; MCCUTCHEON, T. P., J. AM. CHEM. SOC., vol. 78, 1956, pages 4503 - 4506
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
COHEN, Mark S. et al. (IL)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A process comprising the following step of formate ester formation:

wherein the process is an electrocatalytic reaction performed in the presence of at least one catalyst or at least one pre-catalyst, a formate salt electrolyte and wherein R is selected from a group consisting of linear or branched, optionally substituted, aryl, alkyl, alkenyl, alkynyl groups.

2. The process of claim 1, wherein the formate ester is further hydrolyzed to formic acid:

3. The process according to claim 2, carried out in the presence of an acid catalyst.

4. The process according to claim 1, wherein said catalyst has an oxidation potential of at least above 1.5 V.

5. The process according to claim 1, wherein said catalyst has an oxidation potential of between about 1.5 V to 1.8 V.

6. The process according to claim 1, wherein said at least one pre-catalyst is Q5[CO(III)WI204O] or Qn[Co(III)TM(L)Wn039]; wherein Q is an alkali metal cation, an ammonium cation or H+; TM is transition metal cation selected from the group consisting of: V(IV), V(V), Cr(III), Mn(II), Mn(III), Mn(IV), Fe(II), Fe(III), Co(II), Co(III), Ni(II), Cu(I), Cu(II), Cu(III), Zn(II), Ru(II), Ru(III), Rh(III), Pd(II) and Pt(II); L is aqua, hydroxy, oxo, formate, acetate, acetonitrile, dimethylsulfoxide, halide, nitrate, sulfate, hydrogensulfate, phosphate, hydrogenphosphate, dihydrogenpho spate, cyano, thiocyano, nitroso and nitrite; and n is an integer between 2 and 8.

7. The process according to claim 6, wherein said L is aqua or hydroxy.

8. The process according to claim 7, wherein said at least one pre-catalyst is

Q7 [Co(III)Mn(II)(H20) W 11039] , Q6[Co(III)Mn(III)(H20)Wn039],

Q7[CO(III)CU(II)(H20)WH039] or any combination thereof.

9. The process according to claim 6, wherein said at least one pre-catalyst is

K7 [Co(III)Mn(II)(H20) W 11039] , K6[Co(III)Mn(III)(H20)Wii039],

K6[Co(III)Fe(III)(H20)WiiC>39], K6[Co(III)Cr(III)(H20)Wii039],

K7[Co(III)Zn(II)(H20)Wn039], K7[Co(III)Cu(II)(H20)Wn039] or any combination thereof

10. The process according to claim 6, wherein said at least one catalyst is provided via oxidation of said pre-catalyst.

11. The process according to claim 1, wherein said at least one catalyst is Q4[CO(IV)WI204O] ,

Qn[Co(IV)TM(L)Wn039] or any combination thereof; wherein Q is an alkali metal cation, an ammonium cation or H+; TM is transition metal cation selected from the group consisting of: V(IV), V(V), Cr(III), Mn(II), Mn(III), Mn(IV), Fe(II), Fe(III), Co(II),

Co (III), Ni(II), Cu(I), Cu(II), Cu(III), Zn(II), Ru(II), Ru(III), Rh(III), Pd(II) and Pt(II); L is aqua, hydroxy, oxo, formate, acetate, acetonitrile, dimethylsulfoxide, halide, nitrate, sulfate, hydrogensulfate, phosphate, hydrogenphosphate, dihydrogenpho spate, cyano, thiocyano, nitroso and nitrite; and n is an integer between 2 and 8.

12. The process according to claim 11, wherein said at least one catalyst is

Q5 [Co(IV)Mn(III)(H20) W 11039] , Q5[Co(IV)Mn(IV)(OH)Wii039] or any combination thereof.

13. The process according to claim 11, wherein said at least one catalyst is

K6[Co(IV)Mn(II)(H20)Wi 1O39] , K5[Co(IV)Mn(III)(H20)Wi 1O39] ,

K5 [Co(IV)Fe(III)(H20)Wi 1O39] , K5[Co(IV)Cr(III)(H20)Wii039], K6[Co(IV)Zn(II)(H20)Wii039], K6[CO(IV)CU(II)(H20)WIIC>39] or any combination thereof.

14. The process according to claim 11, wherein said at least one catalyst is Q4[CO(IV)WI204O] .

15. The process according to claim 1, wherein said at least one catalyst is cobalt or manganese formate or a combination thereof.

16. The process according to claim 1, wherein said at least one catalyst is cobalt or manganese tungstate or a combination thereof.

17. The process according to claim 1, wherein said at least one catalyst is any combination of cobalt formate, manganese formate, cobalt tungstate, manganese tungstate, and Q5[CO(III)WI204O] ; wherein Q is an alkali metal cation, an ammonium cation or H+.

18. The process according to claim 1, wherein said formate salt electrolyte is HCOOQ’ where Q’ is an alkali metal cation or an ammonium cation.

19. The process according to claim 1, wherein said formate salt electrolyte is HCOOLi.

20. The process according to claim 1, wherein said formic acid is the single solvent in said process.

21. The process according to claim 1, comprising a mixture of formic acid and water, acetonitrile, acetic acid, acetone, methanol, ethanol, 2-propanol, propionitrile, butyronitrile, isobutyronitrile, 1 -propanol or any combination thereof as solvent mixture.

22. The process according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein R is an aryl.

23. The process according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein R is an aryl group, optionally substituted with at least one halogen.

24. The process according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein R is a linear or branched alkyl group.

25. The process according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein R is a linear or branched alkyl group substituted with at least one group selected from a halogen, -COOH, -C(=0)R’ and OH; wherein R’ is H or a straight or branched alkyl.

26. The process according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein R is a linear or

branched alkenyl group.

27. The process according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein R is a linear or

branched alkenyl group substituted with at least one group selected from a halogen, -COOH, -C(=0)R’ and OH; wherein R’ is H or a linear or branched alkyl.

Description:
ELECTROCHEMICAL MONO-HYDROXYLATION OF ORGANIC COMPOUNDS

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[001] The invention relates to electrocatalytic processes for the formation of formate esters using at least one catalyst or pre-catalyst; wherein the formate ester can be further hydrolyzed.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[002] The sustainable hydroxylation of hydrocarbons such as benzene, alkanes, alkenes and their derivatives remain a significant research goal. Typically, hydroxylation may occur either by oxygen transfer via metal-oxo complexes, which are very rarely obtained using molecular oxygen or by hydroxy radicals, often formed from hydrogen peroxide. Mostly, thermochemical hydroxylation approaches have been studied in recent generations, but now with the increasing viability of utilizing solar energy as a source of electricity, electrochemical approaches will be of greater importance (M. Beller, G. Centi, L. Sun, ChemSusChem, 2017, 10, 6-13). Electrochemical approaches of oxidation of simple hydrocarbons are rare (Y. Kawamata, M. Yan, Z. Liu, D. H. Bao, J. Chen, J. T. Starr, P. S. Baran, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 7448-7451; Q. L. Yang, Y. Q. Li, C. Ma, P. Pang, X. J. Zhang, T. S. Mei, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 3293-3298; A. K. Vannucci, Z. Chen, J. J. Concepcion, T. J. Meyer, ACS Catal. 2012, 2, 716-719), but the gas phase V2O5 anodic oxidation of benzene where hydroxy radicals are formed from water vapor has been reported (B. Lee, H. Naito, T. Hibino, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2012, 51, 440-444), however, benzene and water are immiscible, which complicates the reaction.

[003] Therefore, there is still a need for a selective hydroxylation of organic compounds, such as benzene, an aromatic hydrocarbon, to phenol, or methane, ethane and cyclohexane, aliphatic hydrocarbons, to methanol, ethanol and cyclohexanol respectively, by a sustainable method, which do not have the drawbacks of high temperature thermochemical approaches. [004] Eberson reported that a polyoxometalate anion, [Co(III)Wi 2 0 4 o] 5- , which has a Keggin structure with a coordinatively and sterically inaccessible Co(III) heteroatom, can be considered a “soluble anode”, that is a one-electron outer sphere oxidant (L. Eberson J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1983, 105, 3192-3199). This anion is active only for the oxidation at the benzylic position of reactive, i.e. alkylarenes with electron donating groups, which have relatively low oxidation potentials, such as 4- methoxy toluene. Hydrocarbons with stronger carbon-hydrogen bonds or higher oxidation potentials such as benzene, methane, ethane or cyclohexane are not oxidized by [Co(III)Wi 2 0 4 o] 5- . It is also possible to introduce a first row transition metal into [Co(III)Wi 2 0 4 o] 5- by replacing one W=0 moiety to yield for example, [Co(III)Mn(III)(H 2 0)Wn0 39 ] 6 (E. N Glass, J. Fielden, Z. Huang, X. Xiang, D. G. Musaev, T. Lian, C. L. Hill, Inorg. Chem. 2016, 55, 4308-4319.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[005] The inventors of the present application reveal a process where formic acid, used as solvent and/or reagent, was reacted via an electrocatalytic transformation with a hydrocarbon, such as benzene, alkane, alkene, or their corresponding halogenated derivatives, to selectively yield formate esters that are easily and readily hydrolyzed by water to yield the corresponding alcohol products.

[006] Thus, the process of the invention is directed to the formation of a formate ester:

wherein the process is an electrocatalytic reaction performed in the presence of at least one catalyst or at least one pre-catalyst (an agent that is transformed during the process to a catalyst), a formate salt electrolyte and wherein R is selected from a group consisting of linear or branched, optionally substituted, aryl, alkyl, alkenyl, alkynyl groups.

[007] In some embodiments, the formate ester prepared by the process described above is further hydrolyzed:

[008] In some embodiments, said further step of hydrolysis is carried out in the presence of an acid catalyst.

[009] In some other embodiments, said at least one catalyst has an oxidation potential of at least above 1.5 V. In other embodiments, said at least one catalyst has an oxidation potential of between about 1.5 V to 1.8 V.

[0010] In some embodiments, said at least one pre -catalyst is Q n [Co(III)TM(L)Wn0 39 ], Q 5 [Co(III)Wi 2 0 4 o] or any combination thereof; wherein Q is an alkali metal cation, an ammonium cation, and/or H + ; TM is a transition metal such as V(IV), V(V), Cr(III), Mn(II), Mn(III), Mn(IV), Fe(II), Fe(III), Co(II), Co(III), Ni(II), Cu(I), Cu(II), Cu(III), Zn(II), (Ru(II), Ru(III), Rh(III), Pd(II) and Pt(II); L is aqua, hydroxy, oxo, formate, acetate, acetonitrile, dimethylsulfoxide, halide, nitrate, sulfate, hydrogensulfate, phosphate, hydrogenphosphate, dihydrogenpho spate, cyano, thiocyano, nitroso and nitrite; and n is an integer between 2 and 8.

[0011] In some embodiments, the at least one catalyst is formed via oxidation of the pre-catalyst, wherein said pre-catalyst is described hereinabove. In some embodiments, the pre-catalyst is active in catalyzing the process of the invention, the catalyst is active or both the pre-catalyst and catalyst are active. In other embodiments, non-limiting examples of pre-catalyst/catalyst transition metal couples in the catalysts within the process of the invention consist of: Co(III)/Co(IV), Mn(II)/Mn(III), Mn(III)/Mn(IV), Fe(II)/Fe(III), Cu(II)/Cu(III) and V(IV)/V(V). Each possibility represents a separate embodiment of the invention.

[0012] In some other embodiments, said at least one catalyst is Q 4 [CO(IV)W I2 0 4O ], Q n [Co(IV)TM(L)Wn0 39 ] or any combination thereof; wherein Q is an alkali metal cation, an ammonium cation, and/or H + ; TM is a transition metal such as V(IV), V(V), Cr(III), Mn(II), Mn(III), Mn(IV), Fe(II), Fe(III), Co(II), Co(III), Ni(II), Cu(I), Cu(II), Cu(III), Zn(II), Ru(II), Ru(III), Rh(III), Pd(II) and Pt(II); L is aqua, hydroxy, oxo, formate, acetate, acetonitrile, dimethylsulfoxide, halide, nitrate, sulfate, hydrogensulfate, phosphate, hydrogenphosphate, dihydrogenpho spate, cyano, thiocyano, nitroso and nitrite; and n is an integer between 2 and 8.

[0013] In yet other embodiments, said formate salt electrolyte is HCOOQ’ where Q’ is an alkali metal or NH 4 + . In other embodiments, said formate salt electrolyte is HCOOLi.

[0014] In some embodiments, said formic acid is the single solvent in said process. In other embodiments, said process of the invention is carried out in the presence of a mixture of formic acid and water as solvent mixture. In another embodiment, said process of the invention is carried out in the presence of a mixture of formic acid and any other solvent. In another embodiment, non- limiting examples for the other solvent consist of: water, acetonitrile, acetic acid, acetone, methanol, ethanol, 2-propanol, propionitrile, butyronitrile, isobutyronitrile, 1 -propanol and any combination thereof.

[0015] In some embodiments, R is an aryl or heteroaryl (i.e. an aromatic group having between 6 to 18 atoms. In other embodiments, R is an aryl group, optionally substituted with at least one halogen. Said substitution can be at any carbon on the aryl ring.

[0016] In some embodiments, R is a linear or branched alkyl group (i.e. a hydrocarbon group having between 1 to 20 carbon atoms, connected to each other via single sigma bonds only). In other embodiments, R is a linear or branched alkyl group substituted with at least one group selected from a halogen, -COOH, -C(=0)R’ and OH; wherein R’ is H or a linear or branched alkyl. Said substitution can be at any carbon on the alkyl chain.

[0017] In some embodiments, R is a linear or branched alkenyl group (i.e. a hydrocarbon group having between 2 to 20 carbon atoms, having at least one double bond connecting two carbon atoms). In other embodiments, R is a linear or branched alkenyl group substituted with at least one group selected from a halogen, -COOH, -C(=0)R’ and OH; wherein R’ is H or a straight or branched alkyl. Said substitution can be at any carbon on the alkenyl chain. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0018] The subject matter regarded as the invention is particularly pointed out and distinctly claimed in the concluding portion of the specification. The invention, however, both as to organization and method of operation, together with objects, features, and advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following detailed description when read with the accompanying drawings in which:

[0019] Figure 1 is an example of a catalyst suitable for this process, where Co is dark gray (center), O is light gray and W is black.

[0020] Figure 2 is an EPR spectrum of the spin adduct of BMPO and the formyloxy radical. Experimental spectrum is black and simulated spectrum is light gray.

[0021] It will be appreciated that for simplicity and clarity of illustration, elements shown in Figure 1 have not necessarily been drawn to scale. For example, the dimensions of some of the elements may be exaggerated relative to other elements for clarity. Further, where considered appropriate, reference numerals may be repeated among the figures to indicate corresponding or analogous elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

[0022] In the following detailed description, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the invention. However, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well- known methods, procedures, and components have not been described in detail so as not to obscure the present invention.

[0023] In one embodiment, the inventors of the present invention have found that a strong oxidant, such as [CO(IV)W I2 0 4O ] 4_ , Figure 1, with a redox potential of 1.8 V in acetonitrile, can be formed electrochemically from [Co(III)Wi204o] 5- . Importantly, [Co(III)Wi204o] 5_ /[Co(IV)Wi204o] 4_ , in the presence of formic acid as a solvent or co-solvent catalyze the electrocatalytic reaction of formic acid with a hydrocarbon to yield a corresponding formate ester as product. The reaction is especially effective using a formate salt such as lithium formate as an electrolyte in an anodic electrochemical transformation.

[0024] Thus, for example, benzene was not oxidized by [Co(IV)Wi 2 0 4 o] 4- directly in acetonitrile alone. However, in formic acid as solvent (or mixed with other solvents as described hereinabove) with lithium formate as electrolyte, benzene reacted by oxidation of the carbon-hydrogen bond leading to the formation of phenylformate likely through the in situ formation of an oxygen centered formyloxyl radical, HC(0)O, at the anode and corresponding formation of molecular hydrogen (H 2 ) at the cathode. The reaction is catalyzed by [Co(IV)Wi 2 0 4 o] 4- . Phenylformate is then easily hydrolyzed to yield phenol and formic acid, the last can be recovered.

[0025] The transformation, therefore, represents an indirect hydro xylation of benzene with H 2 0 to yield phenol with H 2 as co-product:

[Co(IV)W 12 O 40 ] 4 - H 2 0

Ph-H +HCOOH H 2 + Ph-OOCH Ph-OH + HCOOH

[0026] In the past, it has been reported (A. K. Singh, S. Singh, A. Kumar, Catal. Sci. Tech. 2016, <5, 12-40) that formic acid has been decomposed in an electrochemical reaction to yield carbon dioxide (C0 2 ) at the cathode. Contrarily, according to the present invention, in the presence of a hydrocarbon substrate, and a suitable and sufficiently oxidizing catalyst, C0 2 formation is minimized, leading to formation of formate esters via carbon-hydrogen bond activation. A recent research suggests the initial adsorption of a formate anion on an electrode that is maximized by addition of formate to formic acid. Therefore, in the presence of a substrate, demonstrated below for benzene and preferably in the presence of [CO(III)W I2 0 4O ] 5_ /[CO(IV)W I2 0 4O ] 4_ redox couple, one can suggest the following reaction pathway: Anode:

Pt + HCOOH - Pt- -HCOO ads + H +

Pt- -HCOO ads - Pt + e + HCOO*

HM 4 [CO(III)W 12 O4 0 ] H + + M 4 [CO(IV)W 12 0 4 O] + e- (M = H, Li, K)

Catalysis:

1 2 O 40 ]

Cathode:

2 H + + 2 Q H;

[0027] After the first step of formate adsorption, a one-electron oxidation yields an oxygen centered formyloxyl radical, HC(0)O. This reaction is catalyzed by [Co(IV)Wi 2 0 4 o] 4_ but also occurs to some degree in its absence. The formyloxyl radical, HC(0)O was identified by EPR (Figure 2) using BMPO (5-tert-butoxycarbonyl-5-methyl-l-pyrroline-N-oxide) as a spin trap. From the simulation, hyperfine splitting constants of A = 15.5 G and A = 22 G associated with 14 N and ' H atoms (see below N and H in light gray in the spin adduct) were obtained. One observes two magnetically equivalent hydrogen atoms due to the presence of two diastereomers in the spin adduct product:

[0028] Although the formyloxyl radical normally (in the absence of an organic substrate) decomposes to C0 2 , it has a sufficient lifetime in the presence of benzene to react to form a cyclohexadienyl formate radical intermediate species followed by formation of phenylformate. The radical nature of this reaction is supported by the kinetic isotope effect (KIE) observed for the oxidation of benzene and the product distribution observed in the oxidation of halo-benzenes. Pre-Catalyst

[0029] In some embodiments, the process of this invention makes use of a pre-catalyst. The pre catalysts used in the process of this invention include: Q n [Co(III)TM(L)Wn0 39 ], Q 5 [Co(III)Wi 2 0 4 o] ; wherein Q is an alkali metal cation, an ammonium cation, and/or H + ; TM is a transition metal such as V(IV), V(V), Cr(III), Mn(II), Mn(III), Mn(IV), Fe(II), Fe(III), Co(II), Co(III), Ni(II), Cu(I), Cu(II), Cu(III), Zn(II), Ru(II), Ru(III), Rh(III), Pd(II) and Pt(II); L is aqua, hydroxy, oxo, formate, acetate, acetonitrile, dimethylsulfoxide, halide, nitrate, sulfate, hydrogensulfate, phosphate, hydrogenphosphate, dihydrogenpho spate, cyano, thiocyano, nitroso and nitrite; and n is an integer between 2 and 8.

[0030] In another embodiment, the pre-catalyst is Q 7 [Co(III)Mn(II)(H 2 0)Wn0 39 ], Q6[Co(III)Mn(III)(H 2 0)Wii039], Q7[CO(III)CU(II)(H 2 0)WII039] or any combination thereof ; wherein Q is an alkali metal cation, an ammonium cation, and/or H + .

[0031] In another embodiment, the pre-catalyst is K 7 [Co(III)Mn(II)(H 2 0)Wn0 39 ], K6[Co(m)Mn(III)(H 2 0)Wii039], K6[Co(m)Fe(III)(H 2 0)Wii039], K6[Co(m)Cr(III)(H 2 0)Wii039], K7[Co(III)Zn(II)(H 2 0)Wii039], K7[CO(III)CU(II)(H 2 0)WII039] or any combination thereof. Each possibility represents a separate embodiment of the invention.

Catalyst

[0032] In some embodiments, the process of this invention makes use of a catalyst. In one embodiment, the catalyst is formed via oxidation of the pre-catalysts as described hereinabove. In another embodiment, the catalyst is Q 4 [Co(IV)Wi 2 0 4 o] or Q n [Co(IV)TM(L)Wn0 39 ]; wherein Q is an alkali metal cation, an ammonium cation, and/or H + ; TM is a transition metal such as V(IV), V(V), Cr(III), Mn(II), Mn(III), Mn(IV), Fe(II), Fe(III), Co(II), Co(III), Ni(II), Cu(I), Cu(II), Cu(III), Zn(II), Ru(II), Ru(III), Rh(III), Pd(II) and Pt(II); L is aqua, hydroxy, oxo, formate, acetate, acetonitrile, dimethylsulfoxide, halide, nitrate, sulfate, hydrogensulfate, phosphate, hydrogenphosphate, dihydrogenphospate, cyano, thiocyano, nitroso and nitrite; and n is an integer between 2 and 8. [0033] In another embodiment, the catalyst is Q 5 [Co(IV)Mn(III)(H 2 0)Wn0 39 ], Q 5 [Co(IV)Mn(IV)(OH)Wn0 39 ] or any combination thereof; wherein Q is as described hereinabove.

In another embodiment, the catalyst is K 6 [Co(IV)Mn(II)(H 2 0)Wn0 39 ], K 5 [Co(IV)Mn(III)(H 2 0) W 11039] , K5[Co(IV)Fe(m)(H 2 0)Wii039], K5[Co(IV)Cr(m)(H 2 0)Wii039], K6[Co(IV)Zn(II)(H 2 0) W 11039] , K6[CO(IV)CU(II)(H 2 0)WII03 9 ] or any combination thereof. Each possibility represents a separate embodiment of the invention.

[0034] In other embodiments, said at least one catalyst is cobalt formate, manganese formate or a combination thereof. In other embodiments, said at least one catalyst is cobalt tungstate, manganese tungstate or a combination thereof. In further embodiments, said at least one catalyst is any combination of cobalt formate, manganese formate, cobalt tungstate, manganese tungstate, Q 4 [CO(IV)WI 2 04O] and Q n [Co(IV)TM(L)Wn03 9 ], wherein Q, TM and L are as described above.

[0035] In one embodiment, without being bound by any mechanism or theory, it is contemplated that all of the pre-catalysts and catalysts as described hereinabove and used within the process of the invention - act in a similar mechanism as detailed above for [ Co( 111 ) W 12O40] W[ Co( I V) W 12O40] , with the in situ formation of the formyloxyl radical, HC(0)0·, during the process of the invention.

[0036] In some embodiments, the formate ester prepared by the process of this invention is further hydrolyzed to obtain the corresponding alcohol and formic acid. In other embodiments, the formate ester prepared by the process of this invention is reacted with an alcohol in a transesterification reaction to obtain the corresponding alcohol and formate ester.

[0037] While certain features of the invention are illustrated and described herein, many modifications, substitutions, changes, and equivalents will now occur to those of ordinary skill in the art. It is, therefore, to be understood that the appended claims are intended to cover all such modifications and changes as fall within the true spirit of the invention. EXAMPLES

[0038] Materials: All chemicals were reagent grade and used as supplied. Formic acid was 98-100% from Merck that by analysis was -95% formic acid with -5% water. The K 5 Co m Wi 2 0 4 o*l6H 2 0 polyoxometalate was prepared by a known literature method [Baker, L. C. W.; McCutcheon, T. P. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1956, 78, 4503-4506]. H 5 Co in Wi 2 0 4 o was prepared by passing a K 5 Co in Wi 2 0 4 o solution in water through acidic ion-exchange resin Amberlyst-l5, and removal of water by vacuum evaporation.

[0039] Analytical Methods: Combined GC with a flame ionization detector and GC with a mass selective detector measurements were carried out to quantify and identify the products of the hydrocarbon reactions. The gaseous reaction products, CO2 and Fb, were analyzed by GC with a thermal conductivity detector using a 15 m Carbonplot capillary column (0.53 mm ID).

[0040] Electrochemistry: The electrocatalytic experiments were performed in a thermo stated microcell at 25 °C with platinum gauze anode working electrode (3 cm 2 effective area), a platinum wire cathode counter electrode with an Ag/AgCl reference electrode. In a typical reaction, a magnetically stirred solution of substrate and K 5 Co m Wi 2 0 4 o (10 pmol) in 3 mL formic acid was electrolyzed at constant potential (1.8 V vs Ag/AgCl) until a known amount of charge was passed. To the reaction was added water and the reaction mixture was extracted with ethyl ether, and the collected organic extracts were washed with aqueous NaHC0 3 , then with water and finally dried with anhydrous Na 2 S0 4 . The conversion of substrate and yield of formate ester products were determined according to the analytical methods described above.

[0041] Examples of the oxidation of arenes, that is benzene and halogenated derivatives are presented in Table 1. Table 1. Electrochemical Oxidation of Benzene and Halogenated Benzenes. [a]

[a] Reaction conditions: 10 mihoΐ K 5 Co(III)Wi 2 0 4 o, 1 mmol substrate, 0.5 mmol LiOOCH, in 3 mL HCOOH. Potential 1.8 V versus Ag/AgCl. Anode - Pt gauze, Cathode - Pt wire in a single cell configuration; t - 3 h, 25 °C. [b] Typically the formate ester was the only product, the exception being the reaction of PhBr and Phi where -40% of the ester was hydrolyzed to the phenol derivative. It is possible that a small amount of HX is formed during the reaction leading to catalysis of the hydrolysis reaction [c] No K 5 Co(III)Wi 2 0 4 o [d] 1.2 mmol LiOOCH. [e] using a glassy carbon anode [f] FE- Faradaic efficiency for formation of ArOOCH.

[0042] ArOOCH were easily hydrolyzed to ArOH by addition of small amounts of acid. For example, the hydrolysis phenyl formate was carried out as follows: after its extraction, lmL of ¾0 and 10 mΐ of 60% HCIO4 were added and mixture was stirred 10 min. Analysis by GC methods showed the quantitative transformation to phenol. [0043] Various points should be emphasized: (a) the reactions were selective to the formation of monoxidation products (b) The ratio of ortho:meta:para isomers formed in the reactions of halobenzenes are indicative of a radical reaction, which was (c) also supported by a KIE in the competitive oxidation of 1: 1 benzene: benzene-ife where KIE; ¾ ¾ = 1.07 was measured (d) There was some reaction in the absence of K5Co(III)Wi204o, but its presence increased the efficiency both in terms of yield and Faradaic efficiency for the formation of aryl formates (e) Further significant improvement in the reaction efficiency was observed by the addition of additional amounts of the lithium formate electrolyte, leading to Faradaic efficiencies of up to 75% and yields of aryl formates of 35 mol% at ~ 100 % selectivity (f) The reaction in the presence of air or under N 2 yielded the same result within experimental error. Thus, 0 2 does not participate in the reaction (h) the current was quite stable with only some loss over time.

[0044] In addition, as shown in Table 2, a complete analysis of the reaction products including the formation of C0 2 and H 2 shows (i) that the reaction of benzene for 45 min showed a Faradaic efficiency for all products of >97% and yielded 39 pmol PhOOCH, 47 pmol C0 2 and 88 pmol H 2 . Thus, the additional reaction in this oxidation of arenes was the decomposition of formic acid to C0 2 and H 2 . (j) Under the same reaction conditions in the absence of benzene, equimolar amounts of H 2 and C0 2 (79 ± 5 pmol) were formed (k) K 5 Co(III)Wi 2 0 4 o catalyzed the oxidation of formic acid since in its absence only 18 + 2 pmol H 2 and C0 2 each were found. (1) Finally, the use of lithium acetate as electrolyte in the presence of formic acid as solvent yielded significantly less products.

Table 2. Formation of H 2 and C0 2 during Electrolysis of Formic Acid

[a] Reaction conditions: 10 mhioΐ K 5 Co(III)Wi 2 0 4 o, 1 mmol substrate, 0.5 mmol LiOOCH, in 3 mL HCOOH. Potential 1.8 V versus Ag/AgCl. Anode - Pt gauze, Cathode - Pt wire in a single cell configuration; t - 45 min, 25 °C.

Examples of reactions with Q n , Co(III)TM , (H 2 0)Wn0 39 , (wherein n’ is 6 or 7 and TM’ is Mn(III), Mn(II), Fe(III), Cr(III), Zn(II) or Cu(II)) are presented in Table 3. In a typical reaction, a magnetically stirred solution of benzene (1M) and K n CO( III)TM’(H 2 0)W I 1O39 (2.5 mM) in 4 mL of 1: 1 formic acid - acetonitrile and lithium formate (0.25M) was electrolyzed at constant potential (1.8 V vs Pt) by using a BioLogic Science VSP-201 potentiostat until a known amount of charge was passed. The conversion/yield of products, and selectivity were determined by GC, GC-MS. The faradaic efficiency for formation of organic products was calculated by dividing the amount of product (taking into account a two-electron oxidation) by the amount of electrons that were passed through the electrochemical cell. These examples demonstrate the feasibility of employing such compounds within the process of the invention. Table 3. Reactions catalyzed by K n Co(III)TM’(L)Wi 1O39.




 
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