From Chapter 2 of Catalytic Hydrogenation in Organic Syntheses:

Highly stereospecific hydrogenations of acetylenes to cis-olefins can be achieved with a nickel (P2) catalyst, prepared by sodium borohydride reduction of nickel acetate in ethanol, and ethylenediamine as a promoter.

The Wikipedia article on nickel boride describes two forms, P-1 and P-2, differing in their ratio of $\ce{Ni2B}$ to $\ce{NaBO2}$.

What is the origin of the names "P1" and "P2"? Does it have to do with whether the catalysts add hydrogen in a syn or anti fashion?

  • $\begingroup$ Have a look at Wikipedia, it's right there: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nickel_boride#Preparation $\endgroup$ May 20 '17 at 12:22
  • $\begingroup$ The meaning of ''p -2" , the reason behind this terminology is what I wanted to know. $\endgroup$
    – Iype Eldho
    May 21 '17 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ I'm speculating things: the only google books reference I'm able to find is this (it's not letting me preview the entire book). Notice closely, Raney Nickel has been called W2, and a footnote at this wikipedia article tells me that's a grade of nickel. So, perhaps P2 is also a grade? $\endgroup$ May 22 '17 at 7:38

The actual differences between the two forms are well-documented on Wikipedia. As for the names: as far as I can tell, the choice of "1" and "2" seems to be arbitrary. The choice of the letter "P", though, is described by C. A. Brown (who carried out investigations into the synthesis and reactivity of these catalysts).1,2 In footnote 13 of reference 1, Brown writes:

The designations are derived from Purdue University, where this work was initiated.

So, it is within reason to assume that the P stands for Purdue.


  1. Brown, C. A. Catalytic hydrogenation. V. Reaction of sodium borohydride with aqueous nickel salts. P-1 nickel boride, a convenient, highly active nickel hydrogenation catalyst. J. Org. Chem. 1970, 35 (6), 1900–1904. DOI: 10.1021/jo00831a039.

  2. Brown, C. A.; Ahuja, V. K. Catalytic hydrogenation. VI. Reaction of sodium borohydride with nickel salts in ethanol solution. P-2 Nickel, a highly convenient, new, selective hydrogenation catalyst with great sensitivity to substrate structure. J. Org. Chem. 1973, 38 (12), 2226–2230. DOI: 10.1021/jo00952a024.


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