|Journal||Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2019-10-30, Volume 141 Find other publications in this journal|
Ruthenium-pincer complexes bearing CNN- and PNN-pincer ligands with diethyl- or diisopropylamino side groups, which have previously been reported to be active precatalysts for ester hydrogenation, undergo dehydroalkylation on heating in the presence of tricyclohexylphosphine to release ethane or propane, giving five-coordinate ruthenium(0) complexes containing a nascent imine functional group. Ethane or propane is also released under the conditions of catalytic ester hydrogenation, and time-course studies show that this release is concomitant with the onset of catalysis. A new PNN-pincer ruthenium(0)-imine complex is a highly active catalyst for ester hydrogenation at room temperature, giving up to 15 500 turnovers with no added base. This complex was shown to react reversibly at room temperature with two equivalents of hydrogen to give a ruthenium(II)-dihydride complex, where the imine functionality has been hydrogenated to give a protic amine side group. These observations have potentially broad implications for the identities of catalytic intermediates in ester hydrogenation and related transformations.