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Abstract

▪ Abstract 

There is a pressing need for cleaner fuels (free or aromatics and of minimal sulfur content) or ones that convert chemical energy directly to electricity, silently and without production of noxious oxides and particulates; chemical, petrochemical and pharmaceutical processes that may be conducted in a one-step, solvent-free manner and that use air as the preferred oxidant; and industrial processes that minimize consumption of energy, production of waste, or the use of corrosive, explosive, volatile, and nonbiodegradable materials. All these needs and other desiderata, such as the in situ production and containment of aggressive and hazardous reagents, and the avoidance of use of ecologically harmful elements, may be achieved by designing the appropriate heterogeneous inorganic catalyst, which ideally should be cheap, readily preparable and fully characterizable, preferably under in situ reaction conditions. A range of nanoporous and nanoparticle catalysts that meet most of the stringent demands of sustainable development and responsible (clean) technology is described. Specific examples that are highlighted include the production of adipic acid (precursor of polyamides and urethanes) without the use of concentrated nitric acid nor the production of greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide; the production of caprolactam (precursor of nylon) without the use of oleum and hydroxylamine sulfate; and the terminal oxyfunctionalization of linear alkanes in air. The topic of biocatalysis and sustainable development is also briefly discussed for the epoxidation of terpenes and fatty acid methyl esters; for the generation of polymers, polylactides, and polyesters; and for the production of 1,3-propanediol from corn.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.matsci.35.102003.140852
2005-08-04
2024-04-23
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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