Here is how to reduce metal waste in continuous-flow electrochemical reactions - School of Science, the University of Tokyo
May 23, 2023

Here is how to reduce metal waste in continuous-flow electrochemical reactions


Research proves the importance of single-atom catalysts for efficiently synthesizing organic compounds in continuous-flow electrochemical reactions. 


May 23, 2023


Led by Prof. Shū Kobayashi of the School of Science at the University of Tokyo, Yasuhiro Yamashita, Tomohiro Yasukawa, and colleagues developed a continuous-flow reaction using electrochemistry which significantly reduced metal waste in the electrochemical synthesis of organic compounds. 


Organic synthesis generally creates a large amount of metal waste. Disposing of such metal waste is challenging and may lead to pollution. Electrochemical organic synthesis reduces metal waste to an extent. But synthesizing organic compounds using electrochemical reactions still produces a significant amount of metal waste. Therefore, rather than using static batch reaction systems like flasks, the team used a continuous-flow reaction system where the reactions happen in a continuous flow of chemicals. So far, no continuous-flow electrochemical reactions using organometallic reagents have been achieved. 


For continuous-flow electrochemistry, the team used single-atom zinc as an electrode to show that it can reduce metal wastage after the reaction. In doing so, their method also led to an efficient and environmentally friendly carbon-carbon bond formation involved in continuously synthesizing organic compounds compared to the current methods. The reactions gave the desired product in high yield, and the zinc used was recycled during the continuous-flow reaction.  

Figure. The continuous-flow electrochemical reaction using single-atom zinc. The zinc used was recycled. 


The findings help in the continuous synthesis of pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals and address the metal waste disposal problem at the root cause—a step toward green and sustainable chemistry. 


For more details, please check out the article: 

Journal Journal of the American Chemical Society 
Title Heterogeneous Single-Atom Zinc on Nitrogen-Doped Carbon Catalyzed Electrochemical Allylation of Imines  
Ryusuke Masuda,Tomohiro Yasukawa, Yasuhiro Yamashita, Tei Maki, Tomoko Yoshida and Shū Kobayashi  








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