Soluble catalysts are used extensively in many branches of chemistry and are indeed a vital constituent of many natural processes. They find wide application throughout the chemical industry where they assist in the production of several million tonnes of chemicals each year. Since homogeneous systems, especially those incorporating transition metals, often function effectively under milder conditions than their heterogeneous counterparts, they are becoming increasingly important at a time when the chemical industry in particular, and society in general, is seeking ways of conserving energy and of making the best possible use of available resources. My principal objective in- writing this book is to engender sufficient enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, the subject in the reader that he or she will be encouraged to begin, or continue, to make their own contribution to advancing our knowledge of homogeneous catalysis. After attempting to acquaint the reader with some of the ground rules I have tried to describe the present scope, and the future potential, of this fascinating field of chemistry by drawing both on academic and on industrial data sources. This approach stems from a personal conviction that future progress could be considerably hastened by a more meaningful dialogue between chemists working both in industrial and in academic research institutions. Wherever possible, examples of the commercial application of homogeneous catalyst systems have been included and no attempt has been made in any way to disguise the many unresolved questions and exciting challenges which still pervade this rapidly developing area.
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Table of Contents1 General considerations.- 1.1 The art of catalysis, the basic process.- 1.2 Why transition metals?.- 1.3 Why homogeneous?.- 1.4 Molecule activation.- 1.5 Proximity interaction.- 1.6 The catalytic cycle.- 1.7 Summary.- 2 Homogeneous catalyst systems in operation.- 2.1 Hydrogenation.- 2.2 Isomerization.- 2.3 Carbonylation.- 2.4 Hydroformylation.- 2.5 Oligomerization.- 2.6 Polymerization.- 2.7 Oxidation.- 2.8 Metathesis.- 3 Homogeneous catalyst systems in development.- 3.1 Nitrogen fixation.- 3.2 Reductive oligomerization/polymerization of carbon monoxide.- 3.3 Alkane activation.- 4 Where to now?.- References.