DFT study on the recovery of Hoveyda-Grubbs-type catalyst precursors in enyne and diene ring-closing metathesis

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DFT (B3LYP-D) calculations have been used to better understand the origin of the recovered Hoveyda-Grubbs derivative catalysts after ring-closing diene or enyne metathesis reactions. For that, we have considered the activation process of five different Hoveyda-Grubbs precursors in the reaction with models of usual diene and enyne reactants as well as the potential precursor regeneration through the release/return mechanism. The results show that, regardless of the nature of the initial precursor, the activation process needs to overcome relatively high energy barriers, which is in agreement with a relatively slow process. The precursor regeneration process is in all cases exergonic and it presents low energy barriers, particularly when compared to those of the activation process. This indicates that the precursor regeneration should always be feasible, unlike the moderate recoveries sometimes observed experimentally, which suggests that other competitive processes that hinder recovery should take place. Indeed, calculations presented in this work show that the reactions between the more abundant olefinic products and the active carbenes usually require lower energy barriers than those that regenerate the initial precatalyst, which could prevent precursor regeneration. On the other hand, varying the precursor concentration with time obtained from the computed energy barriers shows that, under the reaction conditions, the precursor activation is incomplete, thereby suggesting that the origin of the recovered catalyst probably arises from incomplete precursor activation. Copyright © 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14553-14565
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number43
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2013


  • catalyst recovery
  • density functional calculations
  • metathesis
  • reaction mechanisms
  • ruthenium


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