A palladium-substituted polyoxometalate having a Keggin structure, supported on γ-alumina or active carbon, was used as a catalyst precursor for catalytic hydrogenation. The catalyst system enabled fast hydrogenation of arenes at 30 bar H2 and 230°C. Most interesting was the finding that arenes could be selectively reduced in the presence of distal ketone groups under similar conditions, 30 bar H2 and 200°C. For example, 1-phenyl-2-propanone yielded 1-cyclohexyl-2-propanone with no reduction of the ketone moiety. Additionally, aromatic compounds with vicinal (conjugated) ketone moieties underwent complete hydrogenation to saturated hydrocarbons and catalytic McMurry coupling was observed for aliphatic aldehydes.
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