Catalytic Conversion of Ethanol to n-Butanol Using Ruthenium P-N Ligand Complexes

Richard L. Wingad, Paul J. Gates, Steven T G Street, Duncan F. Wass*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


We report several ruthenium catalysts incorporating mixed donor phosphine-amine ligands for the upgrade of ethanol to the advanced biofuel n-butanol, which show high selectivity (≥90%) at good (up to 31%) conversion. In situ formation of catalysts from mixtures of [RuCl26-p-cymene)]2 and 2-(diphenylphosphino)ethylamine (1) shows enhanced activity at initial water concentrations higher than those of our previously reported diphosphine systems. Preliminary mechanistic studies (electrospray ionization mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy) suggest the possibility of ligand-assisted proton transfer in some derivatives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5822-5826
Number of pages5
JournalACS Catalysis
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2015

Structured keywords

  • BCS and TECS CDTs


  • biofuels
  • butanol
  • ethanol upgrading
  • Guerbet catalysis
  • ruthenium

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