First nickel is precipitated in metallic form by reacting a solution of a nickel salt with an excess of zinc. This precipitated nickel contains relatively large amounts of zinc and zinc oxide. Then the catalyst is activated by digesting with either base or acid. There is different designations for differently prepared Urushibara nickel catalysts. The most common is U-Ni-A and U-Ni-B. U-Ni-A is prepared by digesting the precipitated nickel with an acid such as acetic acid. U-Ni-B is prepared by digesting with a base such as sodium hydroxide. After the digestion with acid most of the zinc and zinc oxide is dissolved from the catalyst, while after digestion with base it still contains considerable amounts of zinc and zinc oxide. It is also possible to precipitate the nickel using aluminium or magnesium.
Cobalt or iron can substitute for nickel to form different hydrogenation catalysts with different properties, these catalysts are respectively termed Urushibara Cobalt and Urushibara Iron. As a hydrogenation catalyst, Urushibara Cobalt is used for nitrile reduction where it serves as a superior catalyst for the production of primary amines. Urushibara Iron is limited as a catalyst due to its relatively low activity toward most functional groups, however; it does finds some use in the partial hydrogenation of alkynes to alkenes.
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- Nishimura, Shigeo (2001). Handbook of Heterogeneous Catalytic Hydrogenation for Organic Synthesis (1st ed.). Newyork: Wiley-Interscience. pp. 19, 36, 94, 123, 166, 204–205. ISBN 9780471396987.
- Hata, Kazuo (1972). New Hydrogenating Catalysts: Urushibara Catalysts (1st ed.). Oakland, CA: Wiley. ISBN 9780470358900.
- Urushibara, Yoshiyuki; Nishimura, Shigeo (1954). "Procedure for the Preparation of the New Nickel Catalyst". Bulletin of the Chemical Society of Japan. 27 (7): 480. doi:10.1246/bcsj.27.480.
- Urushibara, Yoshiyuki; Nishimura, Shigeo; Uehara, Hideo (1955). "A New Preparation of Catalytic Nickel". Bulletin of the Chemical Society of Japan. 28 (6): 446. doi:10.1246/bcsj.28.446.
- Taira, Shinichi (1961). "Reduction of Organic Compounds with Urushibara Catalysts under High Pressure. VII. Feature of Various Urushibara Catalysts as Revealed in the Reduction of Benzophenone". Bulletin of the Chemical Society of Japan. 34 (2): 261–270. doi:10.1246/bcsj.34.261.
- Taira, Shinichi (1962). "Reduction of Organic Compounds with Urushibara Catalysts under High Pressure. X. Hydrogenation of 2-Butyne-1,4-diol to cis-2-Butene-1,4-diol with Various Urushibara Catalysts". Bulletin of the Chemical Society of Japan. 35 (5): 840–844. doi:10.1246/bcsj.35.840.