Prior to the development of Adams' Catalyst, organic reductions were carried out using colloidal palladium, colloidal platinum or platinum black. The colloidal catalysts were more active but posed difficulties in isolating reaction products. This led to more widespread use of platinum black. In Adams' own words:
"...Several of the problems I assigned my students involved catalytic reduction. For this purpose we were using as a catalyst platinum black made by the generally accepted best method known at the time. The students had much trouble with the catalyst they obtained in that frequently it proved to be inactive even though prepared by the same detailed procedure which resulted occasionally in an active product. I therefore initiated a research to find conditions for preparing this catalyst with uniform activity."
Read more about this topic: Adams' Catalyst
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