GREENER SYNTHESIS OF ORGANIC ALCOHOLS-PHOTOCATALYTIC APPROACH

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GREENER SYNTHESIS OF ORGANIC ALCOHOLS-PHOTOCATALYTIC APPROACH

chemonaire
Administrator
Researchers in Spain have developed photocatalytic process that offers a greener way to produce organic alcohols and other important compounds used to manufacture pharmaceuticals and pesticides.


The new technique, developed by Julio Lloret-Fillol’s team at the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ), is air tolerant, works in water, and doesn’t use the rare-earth metals often called upon to catalyse such reactions. Instead, it reduces aldehydes and ketones using a system that combines cobalt and copper. A cobalt complex plays an essential role in promoting the reaction, while a copper co-catalyst significantly increases the system’s activity. Visible light activates the process at temperatures as low as 15°C. The procedure’s tolerance to air is unusual, as oxygen normally deactivates catalysts based on earth-abundant elements.


The team demonstrated the reaction with more than 20 aryl ketone substrates, as well as a selection of both aromatic and aliphatic aldehydes. And although they tested the catalytic system in water, it showed a selectivity in favour of reducing the organic substrates over the water molecules of more than 2000:1. Surprisingly, the technique also preferentially reduces acetophenone over highly reactive aliphatic aldehydes when applied to mixtures of substrates.

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