Separation and recovery of selected transition-metal catalyst systems using membrane processes

Thumbnail Image
Xaba, Bongani Michael
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Membrane separation processes offer a promising alternative to energy-intensive separation processes such as distillation and solvent extraction. NF and RO are among the most investigated membrane processes with a potential use in the chemical industry. Carbon-carbon coupling reactions feature in the top ten most used reactions in the chemical industry. These reactions often use homogeneous palladium, nickel and other precious catalysts which are often difficult to separate from reaction products. This leads to potential product contamination and loss of active catalysts. This not only poses a threat to the environment but is also costly to the chemical industry. The purpose of this study was to investigate the efficiency of the recovery of the metal catalysts by selected membrane processes. Four commercial polymeric NF and RO membranes (NF90, NF270, BW30 and XLE) were selected for the study. Palladium catalysts commonly used in Heck and Suzuki coupling reactions were selected. These are Pd(OAc)2, Pd(OAc)2(PPh3)2, PdCl2 and Pd(PPh3)2Cl2. A range of organic solvents were also selected for the study. All the membranes were characterized for pure water permeability, pure solvent permeability, swelling, surface morphology and chemical structure. The chemical and catalytic properties of the catalysts were determined. Catalytic activity was investigated by performing coupling reactions. These catalysts generally performed well in the Heck coupling reaction with sufficient yields realized. The catalysts showed poor activities in the Suzuki and Sonogashira coupling reactions. These coupling reaction systems were affected by rapid palladium black formation. vi Catalyst retention studies showed the influence of membrane-solute interactions such as steric hindrance and size exclusion. The larger catalyst, Pd(OAc)2(PPh3)2 was rejected better by all the membranes irrespective of the solvent used. The smaller catalyst, Pd(OAc)2 was the most poorly rejected catalyst. This catalyst showed signs of instability in the selected solvents. An interesting finding from this study is that of higher rejections in water compared to other solvents for a particular catalyst. In this regard, the influence of solventsolute effects was evident. Generally, higher rejections were observed in solvents with higher polarity. This has been explained by the concept of solvation. It has been shown that solvents with different polarity solvate solutes differently, therefore leading to a different effective solute diameter in each solvent. Catalyst separation using NF90 membrane was attempted for the Heck coupling reaction system. The reaction-separation procedure was repeated for two filtration cycles with rapid activity decline evident. This was regarded as very poor showing of the catalyst separation efficiency of the membrane. Other authors in similar studies using SRNF membranes have reported reaction-separation processes of up to seven cycles. This observation shows the inferiority of polymeric membranes in organic solvent applications such as catalyst separation.
Thesis (M. Tech. Chemistry, Dept. of Chemistry, Faculty of Applied and Computer Sciences)--Vaal University of Technology, 2010.
Transition-metal catalyst systems, Membrane processes, Membrane separation processes, Palladium catalysts, Organic solvents, Catalytic activity, Membrane-solute interactions