Removing Pollutants from Ground Water: Investigating Dehalogenation Reactions

Volatile organic compounds, including the carcinogenic compounds tetrachloroethene and trichloroethene, have been detected at relatively high levels in urban well water. Tetrachloroethene is of particular concern because of its tendency to contaminate soil and aquifers. The cobalamin cofactor (Cbl, found in vitamin B12) and the nickel-containing cofactor F430 in the enzyme methyl-coenzyme M reductase (MCR) have been shown to dechlorinate tetrachloroethene and trichloroethene to produce ethylene. In order to understand this reactivity, we are preparing molecular model compounds of Cbl and MCR that reproduce the dehalogenation activity observed in biological systems.