ESR15 Project

CO2 Transformations catalysed by N-Heterocylic Carbene (NHC) systems

Recruting institution: CNRS
Diploma-delivering institutions: UPS, UAB
Thesis co-directors: Olivier Baslé and Sébastien Bontemps (LCC, Toulouse, FR), Agustí Lledós (UAB, Barcelona, ES)
Secondment host: Rhodia Operations (FR)


The direct conversion of abundant and low-cost CO2 and hydrocarbon feedstock into value-added products has the potential to be a revolutionary technology in the chemical industry. In this project, by taking advantage of photochemical reactions that occur under mild conditions and avoid the use of aggressive chemicals, we propose to functionalize alkanes with CO2 for the production of high value-added carboxylic acids.

This project is based our complementary expertise in photocatalytic C-H functionalization,[1] and CO2 activation[2] at LCC and in computational modelling at UAB.[3]

[1] O. Baslé et al. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.2019, 58, 15244.
[2] S. Bontemps et al., Coord. Chem. Rev.2016, 308, Part 2, 117.
[3] P. Vidossich, A. Lledós, G. Ujaque, Acc. Chem. Res.2016, 49, 1271.

Expected Results

Efficient and robust catalytic systems (<1 mol% catalyst) using low pressure of CO2 (1 atm.) for the regioselective (>99%) carboxylation of low value feedstock. The PhD student will gain skills in theoretical calculations, advanced organic, heterocycles synthesis as well as catalytic CO2 transformations.

Agustín Morales Aguilar

Agustín Morales Aguilar

PhD student - ESR15

After studying a BSc in Chemistry at the University of Seville for three years, I enrolled a two-years French-Spanish program through which I have been awarded with two master degrees on Chemical Engineering and, Molecular and Supramolecular Chemistry by the European School of Chemistry, Polymers and Materials Science (ECPM), as well as a MSc in Advanced Studies in Chemistry by the University of Seville. Within this program, I have also had the opportunity of
doing a research internship at BASF for 4 months in Ludwigshafen am Rhein (Germany). Finally, I came back to Seville to do my master thesis at the Institute of Chemical Research (IIQ) within Campos group. On my Master thesis, I delved into the beauty of organometallic chemistry through amazing Transition Metals Only Frustrated Lewis Pairs (TMOFLP) and unconventional metallic centres for the activation of small molecules. My PhD will be focussed on the synthesis, reactivity and computational study of N-heterocyclic carbene-metal complexes, towards CO2 and C-H bonds via photochemical reactions. This study will be done with the aim of producing catalytically high value-added carboxylic acids from low-value hydrocarbons.