Organometallic Approaches to Conversion of Energy-Carrying Molecules

Name of applicant

Anders Reinholdt


DKK 425,000



Type of grant

Internationalisation Fellowships


The aim of this project is to use organometallic chemistry to transform energy-carrying molecules such as methane and low-valent titanium complexes. Organometallic molecules have chemical bonds between the element carbon and a metal. In chemical reactions, this combination may provide organic fragments with the properties of a metal and enable unusual reactivity. In one line of studies, we will design organometallic catalysts that insert nitrogen fragments into the C-H bonds of methane and thus functionalise a very unreactive hydrocarbon. In another line of studies, we will develop low-valent titanium complexes that transfer electrons reversibly and thus introduce earth-abundant metals in electron-storing materials.


Molecules store energy by forming new chemical bonds or accumulating electrons. This has implications for everyday life (combustion of fuels, discharge of batteries), but also poses fundamental questions. For instance, methane is the most energy-rich hydrocarbon, and yet it is extremely unreactive. We will develop catalysts that activate methane at low temperatures. Understanding how the catalyst breaks C-H bonds is particularly interesting. Low-valent titanium readily transfers electrons. However, large encapsulating ligands may prevent such degradation. With this outset, we will study the unusual electronic structures and small molecule activation of low-valent titanium complexes.


The research will be conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, USA in Professor Daniel J. Mindiola's laboratory. The studies have their origins in organometallic chemistry, and the main body of the work will involve synthesis of transition metal complexes under inert atmosphere conditions. To understand and ideally control catalysis and electronic structures, the organometallic systems will be investigated with complementary methods, such as high-pressure reactors (methane activation) and X-ray spectroscopy (titanium electronic structure).

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