There are pros and cons to both homogeneous and heterogeneous catalytic strategies. One way to get the best of both worlds is to use aqueous-organic biphasic catalysis. This approach hasn’t been widely utilised so far due to interfacial resistance between the phases which causes a low catalytic activity.
Researchers in China have overcome this by using tannins from Black Wattle (an acacia tree species). The tannins “amphiphilicly” stabilise catalytic palladium nanoparticles enabling them to catalyse reactions in the organic phase whilst remaining in the aqueous phase for subsequent re-use, without loss of activity.
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Using plant tannin as natural amphiphilic stabilizer to construct aqueous-organic biphasic system for highly active and selective hydrogenation of quinoline
Hui Mao, Jun Ma, Yang Liao, Shilin Zhao and Xuepin Liao
Catal. Sci. Technol., 2013, DOI:10.1039/C3CY00108C