Understanding the Relationship between Kinetics and Thermodynamics in CO2 Hydrogenation Catalysis

Matthew S. Jeletic, Elliott B. Hulley, Monte L. Helm, Michael T. Mock, Aaron M. Appel, Eric S. Wiedner, John C. Linehan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Catalysts that are able to reduce carbon dioxide under mild conditions are highly sought after for storage of renewable energy in the form of a chemical fuel. This study describes a systematic kinetic and thermodynamic study of a series of cobalt and rhodium bis(diphosphine) complexes that are capable of hydrogenating carbon dioxide to formate under ambient temperature and pressure. Catalytic CO2 hydrogenation was studied under 1.8 and 20 atm of pressure (1:1 CO2/H2) at room temperature in tetrahydrofuran with turnover frequencies (TOF) ranging from 20 to 74000 h-1. The catalysis was followed by 1H and 31P NMR spectroscopy in real time under all conditions to yield information about the rate-determining step. The cobalt catalysts displayed a rate-determining step of hydride transfer to CO2, while the hydrogen addition and/or deprotonation steps were rate limiting for the rhodium catalysts. Thermodynamic analysis of the complexes provided information on the driving force for each step of catalysis in terms of the catalyst hydricity (G°H), acidity (pKa), and free energy for H2 addition (G°H2). Linear free-energy relationships were identified that link the kinetic activity for catalytic hydrogenation of CO2 to formate with the thermodynamic driving force for the rate-limiting steps of catalysis. The catalyst exhibiting the highest activity, Co(dmpe)2H, was found to have hydride transfer and hydrogen addition steps that were each downhill by approximately 6 to 7 kcal mol-1, and the deprotonation step was thermoneutral. This indicates the fastest catalysts are the ones that most efficiently balance the free energy relationships of every step in the catalytic cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6008-6017
Number of pages10
JournalACS Catalysis
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2017


  • carbon dioxide
  • cobalt
  • homogeneous catalysis
  • hydricity
  • hydrogenation
  • rhodium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)

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