Chemistry researcher leads U.S. work in global project

Vladimir Gevorgyan

“We’re polluting too much, using up resources,” says chemistry professor Vladimir Gevorgyan. Photo: Joshua Clark/UIC Photo Services

Chemistry professor Vladimir Gevorgyan will lead the U.S. effort in a three-nation project to develop efficient catalytic methods that replace rare metals with abundant and inexpensive metals such as iron and copper.

“Often, catalysis uses very expensive and very rare metals,” said Gevorgyan, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences distinguished professor.

“Some of these rare metals will be gone in 50 years. It’s very important to move to catalytic materials that are abundant and cheap.”

The project, a collaboration between scientists in the U.S., Germany and China, comes out of a competition sponsored by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemists. Only seven grants were awarded worldwide, each funded by government agencies in each country.

Sustainable chemistry is really 21st century science, Gevorgyan said.

“The idea of sustainable chemistry is very important. We’re polluting too much, using up resources.”

Gevorgyan’s lab, which will be funded through the National Science Foundation, will focus on the use of copper complexes. The lab in Germany will focus on using iron. The Chinese will develop heterogeneous versions of these catalysts.

The scientists hope the methods they develop will create “a straightforward and environmentally benign synthetic chemistry” with applications in medicinal chemistry and material science.

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