Renewable Hydride Donors for the Catalytic Reduction of CO2: A Thermodynamic and Kinetic Study

Charles Musgrave, Abdulaziz Alherz, Chern-Hooi Lim, Yu-Ching Kuo, Philip Lehman, Jennifer Cha, James Hynes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus Citations


Increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration and dwindling fossil fuel supply necessitate the search for efficient methods for CO2 conversion to fuels. Assorted studies have shown pyridine and its derivatives capable of (photo)electrochemically reducing CO2 to methanol, and some mechanistic interpretations have been proposed. Here, we analyze the thermodynamic and kinetic aspects of the efficacy of pyridines as hydride-donating catalytic reagents that transfer hydrides via their dihydropyridinic form. We investigate both the effects of functionalizing pyridinic derivatives with electron-donating and electron-withdrawing groups on hydride-transfer catalyst strength, assessed via their hydricity (thermodynamic ability) and nucleophilicity (kinetic ability), and catalyst recyclability, assessed via their reduction potential. We find that pyridines substituted with electron-donating groups have stronger hydride-donating ability (having lower hydricity and larger nucleophilicity values), but are less efficiently recycled (having more negative reduction potentials). In contrast, pyridines substituted with electron-withdrawing groups are more efficiently recycled, but are weaker hydride donors. Functional group modification favorably tunes hydride strength or efficiency, but not both. We attribute this problematic coupling between the strength and recyclability of pyridinic hydrides to their aromatic nature and suggest several avenues for overcoming this difficulty.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)10179-10189
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number44
StatePublished - 2018

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-72804


  • catalysts
  • CO2
  • hydrides
  • kinetics
  • thermodynamics


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