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Rhodium‐Catalyzed Homogeneous Reductive Amidation of Aldehydes

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The catalytic reductive amidation of an aldehyde (hexanal) with an amide (acetamide) is reported. Apart from the desired N‐hexylacetamide, the two isomeric unsaturated intermediates as well as hexanol are produced together with higher mass products that arise from aldol condensation and diamide coupling of the aldehyde. Screening of different catalyst precursor salts, ligands and reaction conditions led to the finding that the catalytic system based on the (cyclooctadiene)rhodium chloride dimer, [Rh(cod)Cl]2, in combination with the ligand xantphos and an acid co‐catalyst results in high selectivity for the desired product. Under optimized conditions nearly full conversion is reached with high selectivity to the desired N‐alkylamide and with a very high N alkylamide/alcohol ratio, while producing only small amounts of by‐products. The scope of the reaction has been investigated using different amides as well as aldehydes; the results show the general applicability of this novel reaction, but with electron‐withdrawing amides the selectivity to N‐alkylamide is lower. NMR studies showed that the nucleophilic addition of acetamide to hexanal is acid catalyzed, forming N‐(1‐hydroxyhexyl)acetamide in equilibrium with both hexanal and the dehydrated unsaturated imides. A catalytic mechanism is proposed in which a strong acid such as HOTs acts as a co‐catalyst by establishing a rapid chemical equilibrium between the aldehyde, acetamide and the intermediates. Furthermore, it is proposed that the presence of acid causes a change in catalytic species, enabling a cationic Rh/xantphos hydrogenation catalyst to selectively hydrogenate the intermediates to N‐hexylacetamide in the presence of hexanal.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Gorlaeus Laboratories, Leiden University, P.O. Box 9502, 2300 Leiden, The Netherlands, Fax: (+31)-71527-4671

Publication date: 2013-03-11

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