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Evonik in hydroformylation breakthrough

A research team involving Evonik and the Leibniz Institute for Catalysis (LIKAT) in germany has claimed a breakthrough in hydroformylation, an important reaction in industrial organic chemistry where unsaturated compounds are converted into aldehydes and alcohols using synthesis gas. This has been published in Science.

Using newly developed special spectroscopic measurement methods and associated mathematical tools, the team proved for the first time that cobalt carbonyls, low cost compounds for the catalysis of hydroformylation – are active and stable, even at low pressures.

“With this discovery, we have identified new process options for hydroformylation,” said Professor Dr Robert Franke of Ruhr University in Bochum and head of hydroformylation research at Evonik. “In the future, it may be possible to make this large-scale reaction much more economical and environmentally friendly.”

Until recently, it was generally agreed that cobalt-catalysed hydroformylation could only be carried out under high-pressure conditions without the catalyst decomposing. Work will continue to enable processes to be carried out at lower pressure, making them more cost-effective, energy-efficient and more sustainable.

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