Metal-free Heterogeneous Catalysis for Sustainable Chemistry

ChemSusChem. 2010 Feb 22;3(2):169-80. doi: 10.1002/cssc.200900180.


The current established catalytic processes used in chemical industries use metals, in many cases precious metals, or metal oxides as catalysts. These are often energy-consuming and not highly selective, wasting resources and producing greenhouse gases. Metal-free heterogeneous catalysis using carbon or carbon nitride is an interesting alternative to some current industrialized chemical processes. Carbon and carbon nitride combine environmental acceptability with inexhaustible resources and allow a favorable management of energy with good thermal conductivity. Owing to lower reaction temperatures and increased selectivity, these catalysts could be candidates for green chemistry with low emission and an efficient use of the chemical feedstock. This Review highlights some recent promising activities and developments in heterogeneous catalysis using only carbon and carbon nitride as catalysts. The state-of-the-art and future challenges of metal-free heterogeneous catalysis are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carbon / chemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Green Chemistry Technology / methods*
  • Metals / chemistry
  • Nitriles / chemistry
  • Nitrogen / chemistry


  • Metals
  • Nitriles
  • cyanogen
  • Carbon
  • Nitrogen