A DFT Study of the Hexene Hydrogenation Catalysed by the Complex RuH(CO)(Cl)(PCy3): Monophosphine vs Diphosphine Paths

A DFT study of hexene hydrogenation catalysed by the RuH(CO)(Cl)(PCy3)2 complex is presented. The investigation explores the feasibility of two different mechanisms: the first exploits a single phosphine complex and the second uses a two phosphines complex. The energy barriers involving a hydrogen transfer have a ten kcal.mol-1 higher than the one obtained through the single-phosphine mechanism. These results confirm the experimental hypothesis claiming that the departure of a phosphine is favourable at the beginning of the reaction which is the substitution of the catalyst model RuHCl(CO)(PMe3)2 by the real catalyst RuHCl(CO)(PCy3)2 shows no significant influence on the energetic barriers of hexene hydrogenation mechanism. The most important step of the mechanism is the kinetically determining step. The heterolytic cleavage of ruthenium-complexed H2 molecule leads to the generation of two Ru-H bonds and the oxidation of the ruthenium from Ru(II) to Ru(IV). The energy profile of this step is not relative to an elementary reaction because a shouldering is observed after the transition state. This results in an unusual gradient norm profile with five extrema. This is a direct consequence of the asynchronous nature of the different processes taking place during this step. In the case of the model complex RuHCl(CO)(IMes)(PMe3) with IMes = ( N , N '-bis( mesityl)imidazol-2-ylidene), an increase of the free enthalpy of activation is observed during the kinetically determining step, which is in agreement with the experimental work.