The emission of greenhouse gases threatens the global environment, and scientists around the world are increasingly committed to addressing this issue. While many research groups focus on carbon dioxide (CO2) or methane (CH4) revalorization strategies, a team led by Dr. Josep Cornellà at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung has focused on a lesser-known gas that also contributes significantly to global warming: nitrous oxide (N2O), also known as “laughing gas.”
Nitrous oxide has a global warming potential approximately 300 times higher than that of carbon dioxide, and is known to be an ozone depletion agent. As a result of human activities, emissions of nitrous oxide have increased by up to 2% in recent decades.
However, Josep Cornellà’s group considers this molecule far too valuable to be emitted into the atmosphere. NOT2O is indeed a great source of O atoms, and the byproduct generated is N2, molecular nitrogen, which is harmless. The challenge, however, was that for a long time, N2O was considered an inert gas requiring drastic measures to grab the O atom from its structure. However, in their work, now published in Naturethe team at the Cornellà Lab has shown that this can be achieved by reacting N2O with a simple catalyst under mild conditions to make phenols, valuable compounds for industry
“Catalytic synthesis of phenols with nitrous oxide” was published in Nature.
Franck Le Vaillant et al, Catalytic synthesis of phenols with nitrous oxide, Nature (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04516-4
Max Planck Society
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