Catalysis - Principles and Industrial Applications (CHEM*7100)

Code and section: CHEM*7100*01

Term: Fall 2023


General Information

Department of Chemistry
University of Guelph
Fall 2023

Calendar Description

CHEM*7100  Selected Topics in Inorganic Chemistry  Unspecified  [0.50]  
Discussion of specialized topics related to the research interests of members of the Centre. Special topics could include, for example: bioinorganic chemistry; inorganic reaction mechanisms; synthetic methods in inorganic and organometallic chemistry; homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis; chemistry of polynuclear compounds.

Department(s): Department of Chemistry  
Location(s): Guelph, Waterloo Campus  


This course will provide an introduction and overview of the field of catalysis using (supported) heterogeneous metal/metal oxide and transition metal complexes focusing on

  • general principles and reaction patterns of catalytically active transition metal centres, metal/metal oxide surfaces and supported metals.
  • mechanisms: kinetic and thermodynamic parameters and how to determine them.
  • activation of small molecules such as hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, ethylene, propylene, ethylene oxide, etc.
  • large scale industrially relevant processes and their socio-economic importance.

The ultimate objective of the course is to provide you with the know-how to understand (or at least make some educated guesses on) the mechanisms of any catalyzed reactions and have some insight into the principles of catalyst, reaction and process design. The course will be - as much as possible - conceptual in nature and thus should be suitable for students in any field of chemistry (inorganic, organic, physical and analytical) with 3rd year level undergraduate courses in inorganic and organic chemistry.

Tentative topics to be covered in lectures:

  1. What is catalysis ? Some simple truth and definitions: TOF, TON, catalyst life-times and space- time yields.
  2. Homogeneous vs heterogeneous catalysts.
  3. Heterogeneous catalysts: types of catalysts, active sites, and defects.
  4. Synthesis and characterization of metal and metal oxide catalysts.
  5. 5. Types of reactors and some important heterogeneously catalyzed processes.
  6. Homogeneous catalysts: Overview of types of ligands and their electronic and steric properties. Reaction patterns of transition metal centres and their coordinated ligands.
  7. The tools of the trade: mechanistic investigations through thermodynamic, kinetic and isotope labelling studies.
  8. Two historical perspectives on homogeneous catalysts: The Wacker process and Wilkinson's Catalyst.
  9. Hydrogenation and hydrogenolysis reactions beyond Wilkinson: The Shvo and Noyori systems: ionic and enantioselective hydrogenations.
  10. Oxidation and epoxidation beyond Wacker: The search for efficient and "green" aerobic oxidation catalysts. The Sharpless catalyst.
  11. Adding carbons I: Hydroformylation, hydrocyanation, carbonylation, Fischer-Tropsch chemistry and related reactions - the Monsanto process.
  12. Adding carbons II: Oligomerization and dimerization reactions. The Shell Higher Olefin Process (SHOP). Metallocenes and other single-site polymerization catalysts. Metathesis reactions and ROMP using Grubb's catalyst.
  13. The Holy Grail I: Catalytic C-H bond activation in simple hydrocarbons: The Catalytica process (Periana Catalyst) and related fundamental processes.
  14. The Holy Grail II: Catalytic Hydrodeoxygenation of biomass to fuel and chemicals.
  15. Cross-coupling and other miscellaneous reactions: Heck, Stille, Sonogashira, Hartwig, Buchwald, etc.
  16. Doing things differently: Ionic liquids, supercritical solvents and homogeneous catalysts on solid supports: Biphasic reactions and catalyst recovery and reuse.
  17. ... we will see !


Course Materials

No textbook

instead extensive lecture notes and reading material in form of primary (i.e., research articles) and secondary (i.e., review articles) will be made available online for download.



Assessment Weight
Midterm (in class, date TBA by discussion in class) 40 %
Student Seminar Presentation in class (via Mini-Link) 30 %
Research proposal (as take-home final) 30 %


No laboratory component.

Each student in the course will be required to give a ~ 30 min. presentation (PowerPoint or OpenOffice - max. 30 slides) on a topic of his/her choice within the field of catalysis. In order to coordinate this effort and avoid overlap, I will suggest and discuss potential topics in the first class.

The final exam will be take-home in the form of a research proposal in NSERC format (5 pages + 2 pages literature referecnes) on a specific topic of your choice within the field of homogeneous catalysis. The proposal and presentation cannot be on the same topic. Proposals can also not be on a topic covered by someone else in class, but can constitute an extension of your own graduate research project, as it relates to catalysis (if applicable). Guidelines on the preparation of NSERC proposals can be found on the NSERC website at The proposal should give a brief 2-2 1/2 pages mini-review of the (patent) literature relevant to your chosen topic and include mechanistic and/or synthetic discussion and a 2 -2 1/2 page description of the actual research proposed outlining the conceptual and experimental approach.

Due date for take-home exam (research proposal): 2023-12-08 as a pdf file by email and/or cloud upload.

Required mode of submission of your research proposal is as a word processor or pdf file by e-mail or by upload to the Course Cloud (login & password to be announced).



Course instructor, time and location information are available on CourseLink or WebAdvisor.

Notwithstanding article 184, Section 2A of the Criminal Code of Canada and in accordance with UofG policies, recording the lectures, let alone posting them online in any shape or form, is NOT permitted without explicit written permission from the instructor. Non-compliance will result in expulsion from the course and a mark of zero being assigned.

Start: 2023-09-11

No class on Monday 2021-10-09 – Thanksgiving.

Midterm: In class on paper – dates to be determined by in class discussion and dependent on the number of students in the course.

Dates of Student Lectures: TBA – depends on the number of students in the course. End: 2021-12-01 (Friday - rescheduled from Thanksgiving as per UofG calendar).

Office hours

Anytime as needed by appointment in person or online remote by TEAMS, ZOOM or SKYPE.


University Statements

Covid Information

Please note that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may necessitate a revision of the format of course offerings, changes in classroom protocols, and academic schedules. Any such changes will be announced via CourseLink and/or class email. This includes on-campus scheduling during the semester, mid-terms and final examination schedules. All University-wide decisions will be posted on the COVID-19 website and circulated by email.

Students are encouraged to wear a face mask in order to attend class and lab.

Please note, these guidelines may be updated as required in response to evolving University, Public Health or government directives.

Appropriate Online Behaviour

Inappropriate online behaviour will not be tolerated. Examples of inappropriate online behaviour include:

  • Posting inflammatory messages about your instructor or fellow students
  • Using obscene or offensive language online
  • Copying or presenting someone else's work as your own
  • Adapting information from the Internet without using proper citations or references
  • Buying or selling term papers or assignments
  • Posting or selling course materials to course notes websites
  • Having someone else complete your quiz or completing a quiz for/with another student
  • Stating false claims about lost quiz answers or other assignment submissions
  • Threatening or harassing a student or instructor online
  • Discriminating against fellow students, instructors and/or TAs
  • Using the course website to promote profit-driven products or services
  • Attempting to compromise the security or functionality of the learning management system
  • Sharing your username and password
  • Recording lectures without the permission of the instructor

E-mail Communication

As per university regulations, all students are required to check their <> e-mail account regularly: e-mail is the official route of communication between the University and its students.

When You Cannot Meet a Course Requirement

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons, please advise the course instructor (or designated person, such as a teaching assistant) in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. See the undergraduate calendar for information on regulations and procedures for Academic Consideration.


Medical notes will not normally be required for singular instances of academic consideration, although students may be required to provide supporting documentation for multiple missed assessments or when involving a large part of a course (e.g. final exam or major assignment).

Drop Date

Courses that are one semester long must be dropped by the end of the last day of classes; two-semester courses must be dropped by the last day of classes in the second semester. The regulations and procedures for Dropping Courses are available in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Copies of out-of-class assignments

Keep paper and/or other reliable back-up copies of all out-of-class assignments: you may be asked to resubmit work at any time.


The University promotes the full participation of students who experience disabilities in their academic programs. To that end, the provision of academic accommodation is a shared responsibility between the University and the student.

When accommodations are needed, the student is required to first register with Student Accessibility Services (SAS). Documentation to substantiate the existence of a disability is required, however, interim accommodations may be possible while that process is underway.

Accommodations are available for both permanent and temporary disabilities. It should be noted that common illnesses such as a cold or the flu do not constitute a disability.

Use of the SAS Exam Centre requires students to book their exams at least 7 days in advance, and not later than the 40th Class Day.

Academic Misconduct

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community – faculty, staff, and students – to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring. University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that discourages misconduct. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection.

Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.

The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Recording of Materials

Presentations which are made in relation to course work—including lectures—cannot be recorded or copied without the permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a classmate or guest lecturer. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further permission is granted.
By enrolling in a course, unless explicitly stated and brought forward to their instructor, it is assumed that students agree to the possibility of being recorded during lecture, seminar or other “live” course activities, whether delivery is in-class or online/remote. If a student prefers not to be distinguishable during a recording, they may:

  1. turn off their camera
  2. mute their microphone
  3. edit their name (e.g., initials only) upon entry to each session
  4. use the chat function to pose questions.

Students who express to their instructor that they, or a reference to their name or person, do not wish to be recorded may discuss possible alternatives or accommodations with their instructor.


The Academic Calendars are the source of information about the University of Guelph’s procedures, policies and regulations which apply to undergraduate, graduate and diploma programs.