The development of an efficient catalytic process that mimics the enzymatic function of alcohol dehydrogenase is critical for using biomass alcohols for both the production of H2 as a chemical energy carrier and fine chemicals under waste-free conditions. Dehydrogenation of alcohol-water mixtures into their corresponding acids with molecular hydrogen as the sole by-product from the reaction can be catalysed by a ruthenium complex with a chelating bis(olefin) diazadiene ligand. This complex, [K(dme)2][Ru(H)(trop2dad)], stores up to two equivalents of hydrogen intramolecularly, and catalyses the production of H2 from alcohols in the presence of water and a base under homogeneous conditions. The conversion of a MeOH-H2O mixture proceeds selectively to CO2/H2 gas formation under neutral conditions, thereby allowing the use of the entire hydrogen content (12% by weight). Isolation and characterization of the ruthenium complexes from these reactions suggested a mechanistic scenario in which the trop2dad ligand behaves as a chemically 'non-innocent' co-operative ligand.
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