Recycling Wittig Waste | September 7, 2009 Issue - Vol. 87 Issue 36 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 87 Issue 36 | p. 53 | Concentrates
Issue Date: September 7, 2009

Recycling Wittig Waste

A cyclic catalyst precursor facilitates reuse of the by-product in an olefination reaction
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: catalysis, phosphine, olefination, Wittig

The Wittig reaction is a time-honored tool for transforming carbonyl groups into olefins, but it makes a waste product, triphenylphosphine oxide, that can be tough to remove. Now, Christopher J. O'Brien of the University of Texas, Arlington; Gregory A. Chass of the University of Wales, Bangor; and coworkers have found a way to greatly reduce that waste by developing a Wittig reaction that is catalytic in phosphine. The advance could benefit the performance of Wittig reactions on an industrial scale, where established ways of recycling triphenylphosphine oxide tend to be costly or impractical.

O'Brien's team uses diphenylsilane as a reducing agent to convert a cyclic relative of triphenylphosphine oxide, 3-methyl-1-phenylphospholane-1-oxide, to an active phosphine, which catalyzes the olefination and is then recycled (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., DOI: 10.1002/anie.200902525). This lets the team use catalytic amounts of phospholane, but there is a trade-off: The silane leaves behind a silanol by-product. The team is currently working on ways to recycle the silanol as well, O'Brien says.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
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