What is it about?

The book chapter is about ruthenium-catalyzed hydrogenation and hydrogenolysis reactions and its recent advancements in efficient and highly selective chemical transformations. The chapter discusses the properties of ruthenium and introduces the concept of catalytic function as the basis for the rational design of ruthenium catalysts. The chapter emphasizes the principles of dissociative adsorption of hydrogen and applies these principles to the conversion of typical biomolecules such as cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. The chapter also highlights the characteristic features that make ruthenium catalysis one of the most outstanding tools for implementing sustainable chemical transformations.

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Why is it important?

The information presented in the book chapter is important because it highlights the recent advancements in ruthenium-catalyzed hydrogenation and hydrogenolysis reactions, which have become essential tools for efficient and highly selective chemical transformations. The detailed understanding of the catalytic pathways has enabled researchers to improve known transformations and realize new transformations in biomass conversion, which is important for developing sustainable and environmentally friendly processes for the production of chemicals, fuels, and materials. The rational design of ruthenium catalysts based on the concept of catalytic function and the principles of dissociative adsorption of hydrogen has allowed for the development of more effective and selective catalysts. Furthermore, the conversion of typical biomolecules such as cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin using ruthenium catalysis offers promising opportunities for the sustainable utilization of renewable resources. Overall, the information presented in the book chapter has implications for the development of greener and more sustainable chemical processes.


The book chapter highlights the potential of ruthenium and its complexes as effective catalysts for biomass conversion. As a globally available and sustainable feedstock, biomass offers a promising alternative to fossil-based chemicals in the chemical industry. However, to fully realize the potential of biomass in small and large-scale biorefineries, more efficient catalytic transformations are needed. Ruthenium provides distinct catalytic functions that can accommodate the heteroatoms found in complex biomass molecules and direct catalytic transformations through preferential adsorption of chemical moieties associated with heteroatoms on the catalytically active site. This principle has been explored in the consecutive hydrogenation of unsaturated moieties. The catalytic transformations enabled by ruthenium, including hydrogenation, hydrogenolysis, and hydrodeoxygenation, make it an interesting element for biomass conversion. The interaction of adsorbed molecules with ruthenium surfaces is crucial in the rational design of catalysts that are specific for the conversion of the chosen chemical entity in biomass. As such, it is anticipated that new transformations will be realized based on the unique catalytic functions provided by heterogeneous and homogeneous ruthenium catalysts, which will serve as important tools for synthetic chemists and bolster the use of biomass as a sustainable feedstock for the chemical industry.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Ernst Müller
Ruhr-Universitat Bochum

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This page is a summary of: Hydrogenation and Hydrogenolysis with Ruthenium Catalysts and Application to Biomass Conversion, January 2022, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.97034.
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