Research on the Chemical Modelling of Biological Nitrogen Fixation in the New China—An Overview of Research Carried out at the Fujian Institute During the 1970s and the Early 1980s

  • Jiaxi Lu


In the New China, the summer of 1971 witnessed the gradual resumption of more-or-less peaceful working conditions after the first destructive phase of the catastrophic Cultural Revolution. Professor Guo Xingxian, then the deputy director of the Provisional Bureau of Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), began to recognize the academic significance of chemical modelling of biological nitrogen fixation, which was then attracting the attention of a great number of chemists and biochemists. He therefore proposed to organize a mini-conference consisting of a number of professors and research scientists for a preliminary evaluation of the feasibility of drawing up a research program in this connection. This received at once very warm response from chemists working in the field of the chemistry of transition-metal clusters and looking forward to their possible applications to catalysis problems. As a matter of fact, it is already very much well-known that strongly acidified cuprous compounds play an important role in the catalytic dimerization of acetylene to vinyl acetylene. Again, several research groups in the New China were then already engaged, with certain degrees of success, in research projects organized for the catalytic cyclic trimerization of acetylene to benzene with supported chromic oxide catalysts, and even the catalytic “tetramerization” of acetylene to styrene (via the oligomerization of vinyl acetylene with two molecules of acetylene) with similar chromium catalysts. (Perhaps it is worth pointing out that China was then rather deficient in hydrocarbon resources!) There had been sufficient reasons to speculate that these cyclic trimerizations took place through the catalytic effect of trinuclear chromium clusters. Meanwhile, the molybdenum iron protein (the so-called MoFe-pr), known to be responsible for the very efficient dinitrogen fixation of the enzyme nitrogenase, has been found to contain the transition metals molybdenum and iron. The enthusiastic response of the Fujian Institute of Research on the Structure of Matter, CAS (Fuzhou, Fujian), actively involved in research on the structural chemistry of transition-metal clusters, as well as the Department of Chemistry, Xiamen (Amoy) University (Xiamen, Fujian), well-known for its catalytic research under the capable leadership of Professor K.R. Tsai (Cai Qirui), is therefore quite understandable. Also, the Department of Chemistry, Jilin (Kirin) University (Changchun, Jilin), again well-known for its research work in quantum chemistry under the eminent leadership of Professor A.C. Tang (Tang Aoqing) has also been very much interested in this joint research project. However, without the hearty collaboration of chemists and biochemists in other Chinese research institutions, such an interdisciplinary research program would be doomed to failure.


Nitrogen Fixation Chemical Modelling Vinyl Acetylene Chromic Oxide Catalyst Cluster Dianions 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    a) Nitrogen Fixation Res Group, Fujian Inst of Res Struct of Matter, Chin Acad Sci (1975) A preliminary model for the active center of the catalytic nitrogen-fixing nitrogenase, with discussion on the structural criteria for the chemical activation of the dinitrogen molecule via coordination, Kexue Tongbao (Chinese Science Bull) 12: 540 (in Chinese);Google Scholar
  2. (b).
    Lu JX (1980) Composite “string bag” cluster model for the active center of nitrogenase, in: Newton WE, Orme-Johnson WH (eds) Nitrogen fixation, vol 1. University Park Press, Baltimore, p 343Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Yatsimirskii KB (1971) Pure Appl Chem 27: 251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 3.
    a) Nitrogen Fixation Res Group, Dept of Chemistry, Kirin (Jilin) Univ (1974);Google Scholar
  5. (b).
    Hsu CC (Xu JQ) (1981) Scientia Sinica 17: 193;Google Scholar
  6. (c).
    Hsu CC (1980) A quantum-chemical theory of transitionmetal-dinitrogen complexes, in: Newton WE, Orme-Johnson WH (eds) Nitrogen fixation, vol I, Univ Park Press, Bultimore, p 317;Google Scholar
  7. (d).
    Tang AQ, Xu JQ (1991) A chemical bond theory of transition-metal-dinitrogen complexes. This MonographGoogle Scholar
  8. 4.(a)
    Jonas K (1973) Angew Chem Int Edn 12: 997;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. (b).
    Krüger C, Tsay YM (1973) Angew Chem Int Edn 12: 998;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. (c).
    Jonas K, Brauer DJ, Krüger C, Roberts PJ, Tsay YH (1976) J Amer Chem Soc 98: 74;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. (d).
    Fischler I, von Gustorf EK (1975) Naturwiss 62: 63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 5.a)
    Nitrogen-Fixation Res Group, Dept of Chemistry, Xiamen Univ (1974) Acta Univ Amoien (Nat Sci) 1: 111 (in Chinese);Google Scholar
  13. (b).
    Nitrogen-Fixation Res Group, Lab of Catalysis, Dept of Chem, Xiamen Univ (1976) A model of nitrogenase active-center and mechanism of nitrogenase catalysis. Scient Sinica 19: 460;Google Scholar
  14. (c).
    Tsai KR, Lin ST, Wan HL (1979) Acta Univ Amoien (Nat Sci) 18 (2): 30 (in Chinese, with English abstract);Google Scholar
  15. (d).
    Tsai KR (1980) Development of a model of nitrogenase active center and mechanism of nitrogenase catalysis, in: Newton WC, Orme-Johnson WH (eds) Nitrogen fixation, vol 1: 373;Google Scholar
  16. (e).
    Tsai KR, Wan HL, Zhang HT, Xu LS (1991) Studies on the mechanism of nitrogenase catalysis-substrates-cluster-coordinationchemistry approach. This MonographGoogle Scholar
  17. 6.
    Nitrogen Fixation Group, Chem Dept, Nanking (Nanjing) Univ (1977) Studies on iron catalysts of ammonia synthesis promoted by alkali metal. II. Acta Chim Sinica 35: 141 (in Chinese, with English abstract)Google Scholar
  18. 7.
    Huang KH (1978) A model of active center on ammonia synthesis iron catalysts and coordination activation of N2. Acta Univ Amoien (Nat Sci) 112 (in Chinese, with English abstract)Google Scholar
  19. 8.
    You CB, Song W, Zeng D, Tsai KR (1991) ATP binding to nitrogenase and ATP-driven electron transfer in nitrogen fixation. This Monograph:Google Scholar
  20. 9.
    Unpublished workGoogle Scholar
  21. 10.(a)
    Cao HZ, Liu CW, Lu JX (1986) The electronic structures of [Fe2S2(SH)4]2 and [Fe4S4(SH)4]2-. Acta Chim Sinica 44: 1197 (in Chinese, with English abstract);Google Scholar
  22. (b).
    Liu CW, Cao HZ, Lu JX, Zheng SJ, Liu RZ (1987) The electronic structures of red Roussinate and black Roussinate. Acta Chim Sinica 1;Google Scholar
  23. (c).
    Liu CW, Cao HZ, Lu JX (1989) J Mol Struct (Theochem) 183: 1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 11.a)
    Personal Communication from Lin WC;Google Scholar
  25. (b).
    Lin XT, Zheng A, Lin SH, Huang JL, Lu JX (1982) Chin J Struct Chem 1:79 (in Chinese, with English abstract)Google Scholar
  26. 12.
    Lu JX, Zhuang BT (1989) Chin J Struct Chem 8: 233 (in Chinese, with English abstract)Google Scholar
  27. 13.
    Liu QT, Huang LR, Lu JX (1990) Modular assembly synthesis of monocubane-like clusters [MoxFe4_xS4] from heterobinuclear rhomboidal complexes and the crystal structure of [Mo2Fe2S4(C4H8dtc)6] 3.5C2H2C14. Science in China XXX—XXXGoogle Scholar
  28. 14.a)
    Zhang LN, Huang DR, Peng ZR (1980) A simple variable-temperature IR spectrophotometer attachment for use in tracking reaction intermediates and products in pyrolysis of a solid-phase reactant and its applications. Bull Fujian Inst Res Struct Matter 1: 71 (in Chinese);Google Scholar
  29. (b).
    Zhang LN, Huang DR, Peng ZR, He LJ, Zheng Y, Cai YK (1981) A comparative IR spectral study of the coordination activity of the black Roussinate anion vs the red Roussinate anion. Bull Fujian Inst 1: 23 (in Chinese);Google Scholar
  30. (c).
    Zhang LN, Liu ZP, He LJ, Zheng Y, Huang DR (1983) Chin J Struct Chem 2: 11;Google Scholar
  31. (d).
    Zhang LN, Liu ZP, He LJ, Zheng Y, Hu YX (1984) Chin J Struct Chem 3: 161;Google Scholar
  32. (e).
    Zhang LN, He LJ, Liu ZP, Zheng Y, Huang DR (1985) Chin J Struct Chem 4: 331Google Scholar
  33. 15.a)
    Lu JX (1981);Google Scholar
  34. (b).
    Huang WK, Tan Z, Cui YX, Zhao XT, Lin CZ, Jiang FL, Huang LR, Lu JX (1981);Google Scholar
  35. (c).
    Current Perspectives in Nitrogen Fixation. Australian Acad Sci, Canberra, pp 50, 345, 346Google Scholar
  36. 16.
    Tieckelmann RH, Silvis HC, Kent TA, Huynh BH, Waszezak JV, Teo BK, Averill BA (1980) J Amer Chem Soc 102: 5550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 17.
    Huang LR, Lu JX (1983) Structural Chemistry of G Series Modelling Compound for the Active Center of Nitrogenase. (a) Crystal and Molecular Structure of [Mg-6DMF] [MoFeS4C12]. Scient Sinica 3 B: 193; (b) Crystal and molecular structure of [Mg 6DMSO] [MoFeS4C12]. Scient Sinica 3 B: 199Google Scholar
  38. 18.a)
    Huang JQ, Lu SF, Shang MY, Lin XT, Huang MD, Lin YH, Wu DM, Zhang JL, Lu JX (1987) Chin J Struct Chem 6: 219 (in Chinese, with English abstract);Google Scholar
  39. (b).
    Huang JQ, Huang JL, Shang, MY, Lu SF, Lin XT, Lin YH, Huang MD, Zhang HH, Lu JX (1988) Pure Appl Chem 60: 1185;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. (c).
    Lu JX (1989) Chin J Struct Chem 8: 327 (in Chinese, with English abstract);Google Scholar
  41. (d).
    Chen ZD, Li J, Cheng WD, Huang JQ, Lin CW, Lu JX (1990) A preliminary quantum-chemical analysis of the nature of quasi-aromaticity of the puckered [Mo3S3] rings in certain [Mo3S4]4+ clusters. Chin Sci Bull (Kexue Tongbao) 35: 1698Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jiaxi Lu

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations