Organic Chemistry

Iron takes alcohols to carboxylic acids

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Science  22 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6297, pp. 360-361
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6297.360-g

The oxidation of alcohols to carboxylic acids is a widely practiced reaction in organic chemistry. Unfortunately, it often requires the use of metal oxides that generate wasteful, sometimes toxic byproducts. Jiang et al. report a mixture of three compounds—iron nitrate, the TEMPO radical, and potassium chloride—that catalyze this reaction for a wide range of substrates, using oxygen in air as the oxidant. The authors demonstrate cetyl alcohol oxidation at a 55-g scale. Preliminary studies of the mechanism implicate NO2 as an active participant in the reaction.

J. Am. Chem. Soc. 10.1021/jacs.6b03948 (2016).

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