Cobalt-modified molybdenum carbide as an efficient catalyst for chemoselective reduction of aromatic nitro compounds†
This work presents a facile and clean transformation for synthesizing diverse functionalized arylamines through chemoselective reduction reaction of their corresponding substituted nitroarenes catalyzed by the supported cobalt-promoted molybdenum carbide catalyst on modified activated carbon (Co–Mo2C/AC, AC is denoted as the modified activated carbon by H2O2 oxidation treatment). Various characterization techniques including X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), inductively coupled plasma (ICP) and H2 temperature-programmed reduction (H2-TPR) were employed to reveal the relationship between catalyst nature and catalytic performance, and the plausible reaction mechanism is also proposed. The characterization results suggest that the addition of a small amount of transition metals, especially cobalt could significantly promote the formation of a perfect molybdenum carbide crystal phase, resulting in the improvement in catalytic properties of the supported molybdenum carbide catalyst. Reaction results demonstrate that the optimized Co–Mo2C/AC catalyst shows comparable catalytic performance towards precious metals for chemoselective reduction of various aromatic nitro compounds, affording 100% yield for all substrates involved in this work (99.3% of isolated yield for model substrate). Moreover, it can be found that the catalyst could be easily recovered by filtration and recycled without obvious loss in its catalytic properties. Therefore, the developed Co–Mo2C/AC catalyst in this work can be considered as an industrially viable and cheap candidate for clean and highly-efficient production of diverse functionalized arylamines.