Gabriel Durin received an oral award at the 11th JCF Young Chemist Symposium Ruhr 2023 in Dortmund

The post-doctoral researcher revealed a detailed mechanistic study of electrocatalytic semihydrogenation using simple molecular complexes

At the JCF Symposium on Creating Sustainability organized by JCF-Dortmund on 02.03.2023 Gabriel Durin was recognized for his talk entitled "Hydride-free Hydrogenation: Unraveling the Mechanism of Electrocatalytic Semihydrogenation of Alkynes with Nickel Complexes". Gabriel is currently a post-doctoral researcher in the Organometallic Electrocatalysis team led by Dr. Nicolas Kaeffer in the Molecular Catalysis Department of MPI-CEC.

“I am deeply honored and grateful to the young chemist community for this award which will be very valuable for the future. I was delighted to present my work at this event that brings together the community of young chemists. The discussions, during the conference but also throughout the day, were intense and extremely enriching”, acknowledges Gabriel.

His presentation disclosed a detailed mechanistic study of electrocatalytic semihydrogenation using simple molecular complexes.The semihydrogenation of alkynes is a reaction of major interest because it provides access to alkenes, which are important organic synthons. Electrocatalytic approaches to this reaction are currently under investigation to directly produce alkenes using renewable electricity, while bypassing the need for hydrogen. In general, such catalytic hydrogenation reactions are assumed to be mediated by metal hydride catalysts. Recent examples of electrocatalytic semihydrogenation of alkynes are not exempt from this mechanistic feature.

“What we uncovered here is that this reaction may also take pathways exempt of any metal-hydride intermediates” explains Gabriel. Instead, the unusual mechanism presented involves the coordination of the alkyne to the catalyst following an inner-sphere mechanism. A succession of protonation and electron transfers then generates the alkene product and closes the catalytic cycle. This approach also circumvents the undesired production of hydrogen. The results thus reveal a new mechanistic pathway to be considered for hydrogenation or hydroelementation reactions, especially in catalytic systems capable of decoupling protons and electrons.

About the conference
The symposium organized by the JCF-Dortmund section was held that year under the motto "Creating Sustainability". In addition to lectures and poster sessions by and with young chemists, the event was also punctuated by workshops and opportunities to exchange ideas with industry representatives.