The N-alkylation of amines or ammonia with alcohols is a valuable route for the synthesis of N-alkyl amines. However, as a potentially clean and economic choice for N-alkyl amine synthesis, heterogeneous non-noble metal catalysts with high activity and good generality are rarely reported.
Researchers at R&D Center for Green Chemistry and Catalysis, Lanzhou Institute of Chemical Physics (LICP), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), have designed and prepared a simple NiCuFeOx catalyst for the N-alkylation of ammonia or amines with alcohol. N-alkyl amines with various structures were successfully synthesized in moderate to excellent yields in the absence of organic ligands and bases. Typically, primary amines could be efficiently transformed into secondary amines and N-heterocyclic compounds, and secondary amines could be N-alkylated to synthesize tertiary amines. Note that primary and secondary amines could be produced through a one-pot reaction of ammonia and alcohols. In addition to excellent catalytic performance, the catalyst itself possesses outstanding superiority, that is, it is air and moisture stable. Moreover, the magnetic property of this catalyst makes it easily separable from the reaction mixture and it could be recovered and reused for several runs without obvious deactivation. The findings have been published in Chem. Eur. J. (2013, 19, 3665 –3675).
Scope and limitations of the NiCuFeOx-catalyzed alcohol amination.(Image by SHI Feng et al.)