Homogeneous catalysis: understanding the art

Homogeneous catalysis: understanding the art 
Piet W van Leeuwen
Heidelberg, Germany: Springer | 2005 | 407pp | ?46.00 (SB) | ISBN 1402031769
Reviewed by Duncan MacQuarrie

Catalysis influences virtually all of chemistry, hence there is a real need for chemists to understand the subject, at least at a fundamental level. 

However, it is not easy to become fully conversant with even a single theme within the breadth of catalysis. To apply it sensibly to, for example, a synthetic problem can be difficult. The diverse range of catalyst synthesis, the seemingly endless choices of ligands, solvents and operating conditions, and the often multiple mechanistic possibilities can be bewildering to a non-specialist.  

Van Leeuwen deals with the subject thoroughly and logically. He helps to pull together all the various strands, with very accessible sections on ligand choices, kinetics and the fundamental steps of catalysis. 

Subsequent chapters build on, and refer back to, these key concepts as a wide range of reaction types are described and analysed. 

The development of catalytic systems from a historic perspective helps to put into context the various systems found in the literature, while also mapping out potential future directions, and highlighting the importance of a sound understanding of the catalytic process.  

The key industrial processes relying on catalysis are discussed in depth, together with the additional parameters of process considerations and cost.  

Finally, the key issue of environmental impact is highlighted throughout the book. 

Overall, this is an extremely interesting and useful book for a wide range of practising chemists. It is both an excellent place to start and, for those closer to the subject who perhaps specialise in a particular field of catalysis, it is a good reference book.