Sidestepping white phosphorus | February 12, 2018 Issue - Vol. 96 Issue 7 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 96 Issue 7 | p. 7 | Concentrates
Issue Date: February 12, 2018

Sidestepping white phosphorus

Compounds previously made from toxic and pyrophoric elemental phosphorus can now be prepared starting with phosphoric acid
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: Synthesis, phosphorus, organophosphorus

Making phosphorus-containing compounds is not something to be undertaken lightly. Typically, phosphate is reduced to white phosphorus—a pyrophoric and toxic allotrope of the element—which is then reacted with chlorine gas to produce phosphorus trichloride—a base reagent for making phosphorus-containing compounds. Despite the dangerous reagents, this route is used to mass-produce compounds such as the herbicide glyphosate and the battery electrolyte lithium hexafluorophosphate. Now, MIT chemists Michael B. Geeson and Christopher C. . . .

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