Reductive Electrochemical Activation of Molecular Oxygen Catalyzed by an Iron-Tungstate Oxide Capsule: Reactivity Studies Consistent with Compound i Type Oxidants

Marco Bugnola, Kaiji Shen, Eynat Haviv, Ronny Neumann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The reductive activation of molecular oxygen catalyzed by iron-based enzymes toward its use as an oxygen donor is paradigmatic for oxygen transfer reactions in nature. Mechanistic studies on these enzymes and related biomimetic coordination compounds designed to form reactive intermediates, almost invariably using various "shunt" pathways, have shown that high-valent Fe(V)=O and the formally isoelectronic Fe(IV) =O porphyrin cation radical intermediates are often thought to be the active species in alkane and arene hydroxylation and alkene epoxidation reactions. Although this four decade long research effort has yielded a massive amount of spectroscopic data, reactivity studies, and a detailed, but still incomplete, mechanistic understanding, the actual reductive activation of molecular oxygen coupled with efficient catalytic transformations has rarely been experimentally studied. Recently, we found that a completely inorganic iron-tungsten oxide capsule with a keplerate structure, noted as {Fe30W72}, is an effective electrocatalyst for the cathodic activation of molecular oxygen in water leading to the oxidation of light alkanes and alkenes. The present report deals with extensive reactivity studies of these {Fe30W72} electrocatalytic reactions showing (1) arene hydroxylation including kinetic isotope effects and migration of the ipso substituent to the adjacent carbon atom ("NIH shift"); (2) a high kinetic isotope effect for alkyl C - H bond activation; (3) dealkylation of alkylamines and alkylsulfides; (4) desaturation reactions; (5) retention of stereochemistry in cis-alkene epoxidation; and (6) unusual regioselectivity in the oxidation of cyclic and acyclic ketones, alcohols, and carboxylic acids where reactivity is not correlated to the bond disassociation energy; the regioselectivity obtained is attributable to polar effects and/or entropic contributions. Collectively these results also support the conclusion that the active intermediate species formed in the catalytic cycle is consistent with a compound I type oxidant. The activity of {Fe30W72} in cathodic aerobic oxidation reactions shows it to be an inorganic functional analogue of iron-based monooxygenases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4227-4237
Number of pages11
JournalACS Catalysis
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 3 2020


  • compound I type oxidants
  • iron-tungstate oxide capsule
  • molecular oxygen
  • reactivity studies
  • reductive electrochemical activation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)

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