Saving Our Planet, One Electron at a Time

Professor Dennis Peters and his research group have recently reported the remediation of a chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) via the use of electrogenerated nickel(I) and cobalt(I) catalysts which can completely dechlorinate a CFC, thereby eliminating from the environment a compound that can destroy the ozone layer. For example, 1,1,2-trichloro-1,2,2-trifluoroethane (CFC-113) can be converted quantitatively into trifluoroethene. In addition, if such catalytic processes are carried out in the presence of carbon dioxide, the dechlorinated anionic intermediates can be trapped as fluorinated carboxylic acids, which serve as feedstocks for commercially viable syntheses. Other work is focusing on the use of catalytically active silver cathodes to promote the facile dehalogenation of environmental pollutants such as trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids that arise from the disinfection of drinking water by chlorine.

Read more: (1) “Cyclic Voltammetric and Spectrophotometric Investigation of the Catalytic Reduction of 1,1,2-Trichloro-1,2,2-trifluoroethane (CFC-113) by Electrogenerated Cobalt(I) Salen in Dimethylformamide Saturated with Carbon Dioxide,” Dennis Peters et al., J. Electroanal. Chem. 2011, 661, 39; (2) “Direct and Nickel(I) Salen-catalyzed Reduction of 1,1,2-Trichloro-1,2,2-trifluoroethane (CFC-113) in Dimethylformamide,” Dennis Peters et al., J. Electroanal. Chem. 2012, 676, 6.

Dennis Peters

Herman T. Briscoe Professor

Analytical, Inorganic, Organic