Aleksi Sahari (HU to AU, September 2018)

Purpose of the visit

Visit to Prof. Skrydstrup. Exploration of Ni-mediated carboxylation and frustrated Lewis-Acid-Base-Pairs for Ni-catalyzed coupling of ethylene CO2 to acrylic acid.


During the first NordCO2 meeting in May 2018 in Tromsø, my supervisor Prof. Timo Repo (HU) and me were talking with Prof. Troels Skrydstrup (AU). Together we realized that we have related projects focusing on reductive carbon – carbon bond formation with CO2 with transition metal catalysts. To start a collaboration, I decided to visit the group of Prof. Skrydstrup in Aarhus for three weeks. When I arrived at the laboratories and got to talk with the students, I realized many of them have very in-depth knowledge about nickel chemistry. My background has been mainly in metal-free and copper chemistry and therefore I tried to absorb as much as I could.

We decided that I should join a project working on CO2 coupling to aldehydes, which was at an idea level at that point. The idea was to use reductive nickel catalysis to generate a nucleophilic carbon on the aldehyde, which could react with CO2. My task during the visit was to screen a variety of conditions (solvent, ligand, temperature and additives) for the reaction to see if it was possible. The screening was performed in COware tubes (screw cap pressure tubes), which was new for me. The tubes allowed quick injection of CO2 with a needle to the reaction mixture, which was convenient in contrast to Schlenk tubes and non-screwcap pressure tubes and this saved quite a bit of time. I was happy to see that up to 12 reactions could be set up per day due to the convenient equipment. Unfortunately, even after an extensive screen, no hits were found and side reactions seemed to dominate. Despite this, the trip was definitely not wasted as I learned a lot, got a new scientific ideas and got to enjoy the city of Aarhus.