Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


A Breakthrough for Organic Reactions in Water


Researchers discover way to use water as solvent in a reaction widely used to make chemical products

Green-chemistry researchers at McGill University have discovered a way to use water as a solvent in one of the reactions most widely used to synthesize chemical products and pharmaceuticals.

The findings, published June 26 in Nature Communications, mark a potential milestone in efforts to develop organic reactions in water.

Chao-Jun Li and Feng Zhou of McGill’s Department of Chemistry report that they have discovered a catalytic system which for the first time allows direct metal-mediated reactions between aryl halides and carbonyl compounds in water.

For the past two decades, researchers have been exploring ways to do away with chemists’ traditional reliance on non-renewable petrochemical feedstocks and toxic solvents. One important method has involved replacing the toxic solvents used in metal-mediated reactions with water – something that was previously considered impossible.

While researchers at McGill and elsewhere have succeeded in using water in metal-mediated reactions between carbonyl compounds and other halides, attempts to do so for the most challenging reaction, between aryl halides and carbonyl compounds, have never worked – until now.

Prof. Li and Dr. Zhou, a postdoctoral fellow, found that rhodium -- a metal primarily used in the catalytic converters of automobiles -- as a catalyst together with zinc as a mediator can make the reaction possible in water. This new technique bypasses a number of challenges posed by conventional practices in carrying out this reaction, which is widely used in synthesizing fine chemicals, biologically active molecules and pharmaceuticals. Traditional methods, discovered more than a century ago, require that moisture and air be carefully excluded from the process.

The new aqueous approach promises to “streamline synthetic sequences and make them safer and more efficient,” said Prof. Li, Canada Research Chair in Green Chemistry.

The research was supported by the Canada Research Chairs program, the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

“The Barbier-Grignard-Type Carbonyl Arylation Using Unactivated Aryl Halides in Water”, Feng Zhou and Chao-Jun Li, Nature Communications, published June 26, 2014. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5254

Christopher Chipello | newswise
Further information:

Further reports about: Breakthrough McGill Water compounds discovered moisture reaction reactions technique toxic

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Reliable in-line inspections of high-strength automotive body parts within seconds

Nondestructive material testing (NDT) is a fast and effective way to analyze the quality of a product during the manufacturing process. Because defective materials can lead to malfunctioning finished products, NDT is an essential quality assurance measure, especially in the manufacture of safety-critical components such as automotive B-pillars. NDT examines the quality without damaging the component or modifying the surface of the material. At this year's Blechexpo trade fair in Stuttgart, Fraunhofer IZFP will have an exhibit that demonstrates the nondestructive testing of high-strength automotive body parts using 3MA. The measurement results are available in a matter of seconds.

To minimize vehicle weight and fuel consumption while providing the highest level of crash safety, automotive bodies are reinforced with elements made from...

Im Focus: Kick-off for a new era of precision astronomy

The MICADO camera, a first light instrument for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), has entered a new phase in the project: by agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding, the partners in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Italy, have all confirmed their participation. Following this milestone, the project's transition into its preliminary design phase was approved at a kick-off meeting held in Vienna. Two weeks earlier, on September 18, the consortium and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which is building the telescope, have signed the corresponding collaboration agreement.

As the first dedicated camera for the E-ELT, MICADO will equip the giant telescope with a capability for diffraction-limited imaging at near-infrared...

Im Focus: Locusts at the wheel: University of Graz investigates collision detector inspired by insect eyes

Self-driving cars will be on our streets in the foreseeable future. In Graz, research is currently dedicated to an innovative driver assistance system that takes over control if there is a danger of collision. It was nature that inspired Dr Manfred Hartbauer from the Institute of Zoology at the University of Graz: in dangerous traffic situations, migratory locusts react around ten times faster than humans. Working together with an interdisciplinary team, Hartbauer is investigating an affordable collision detector that is equipped with artificial locust eyes and can recognise potential crashes in time, during both day and night.

Inspired by insects

Im Focus: Physicists shrink particle accelerator

Prototype demonstrates feasibility of building terahertz accelerators

An interdisciplinary team of researchers has built the first prototype of a miniature particle accelerator that uses terahertz radiation instead of radio...

Im Focus: Simple detection of magnetic skyrmions

New physical effect: researchers discover a change of electrical resistance in magnetic whirls

At present, tiny magnetic whirls – so called skyrmions – are discussed as promising candidates for bits in future robust and compact data storage devices. At...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Unexpected information about Earth's climate history from Yellow River sediment

09.10.2015 | Earth Sciences

Single atom alloy platinum-copper catalysts cut costs, boost green technology

09.10.2015 | Life Sciences

Indefatigable Hearing

09.10.2015 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>