CO2 Reduction by an Iron(I)-Porphyrinate System. Effect of Hydrogen-Bonding in the Second-Coordination Sphere.

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Transforming CO2 into valuable materials is an important reaction in catalysis, especially since CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have been growing steadily due to extensive fossil fuel usage. From an environmental perspective, CO2 reduction into valuable materials should be catalyzed by an environmentally benign catalyst and avoid the use of heavy transition metal ions. In this work we present a computational study into a novel iron(I)-porphyrin catalyst for CO2 reduction, namely with a tetraphenylporphyrin ligand and analogs. In particular, we investigated iron(I)-tetraphenylporphyrin with one of the meso-phenyl groups substituted with ortho-urea, para-urea or ortho-2-amide groups. These substituents can provide hydrogen bonding interactions in the second coordination sphere to bound ligands and assist with proton relay. Furthermore, our studies investigate bicarbonate and phenol as stabilizers and proton donors in the reaction mechanism. Potential energy landscapes for double protonation of iron(I)-porphyrinate with bound CO2 are reported. The work shows that the bicarbonate bridges the urea/amide groups to the CO2 and iron center and provides a tight bonding pattern with strong hydrogen bonding interactions that facilitates easy proton delivery and reduction of CO2. Specifically, bicarbonate provides a low-energy proton shuttle mechanism to form CO and water efficiently. Furthermore, the ortho-urea group locks bicarbonate and CO2 in a tight orientation and helps with ideal proton transfer, while there is more mobility and lesser stability with an ortho-amide group in that position instead. Our calculations show that the ortho-urea group leads to reduction in proton transfer barriers in line with experimental observation. We then applied electric field effect calculations to estimate the environmental effects on the two proton transfer steps in the reaction. These calculations describe the perturbations that enhance the driving forces for the proton transfer steps and have been used to make predictions on how the catalysts can be further engineered for more enhanced CO2 reduction processes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInorganic Chemistry
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 13 Feb 2024


  • Density functional theory
  • Inorganic Reaction Mechanisms
  • Iron
  • Biomimetic models
  • Porphyrin


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