News of the WeekChemistry

Novel Catalyst Runs Quick and Clean

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Science  03 Mar 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5458, pp. 1569-1570
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5458.1569a

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On page 1636 of this issue, three researchers report a way to clean up a commonplace family of chemical reactions--turning alcohols into aldehydes, ketones, and carboxylic acids, starting materials for everything from pharmaceuticals to fragrances. The work replaces reactions that rely on the toxic heavy metal chromium and dangerous organic solvents with alternatives that work with everyday oxygen and water. If adopted by industry, the new process has the potential to displace thousands of tons of hazardous waste every year.