- Cannizzaro reaction
The Cannizzaro reaction, named after its discoverer
Stanislao Cannizzaro, is a chemical reactionthat involves the base-induced disproportionationof an aldehydelacking a hydrogen atom in the alpha position. [cite journal
author = Cannizzaro, S.
title = Ueber den der Benzoësäure entsprechenden Alkohol
year = 1853
volume = 88
pages = 129–130
doi = 10.1002/jlac.18530880114] [cite journal
author = List, K.; Limpricht, H.
title = Ueber das sogenannte Benzoëoxyd und einige andere gepaarte Verbindungen
year = 1854
volume = 90
pages = 190–210
doi = 10.1002/jlac.18540900211] Cannizzaro first accomplished this transformation in 1853, when he obtained benzyl alcohol and benzoic acid from the treatment of benzaldehyde with
oxidationproduct is a carboxylic acidand the reduction product is an alcohol. For aldehydes with a hydrogen atom alpha to the carbonyl, i.e. RC"H"R'CHO, the preferred reaction is an aldol condensation, originating from deprotonation of this hydrogen. Reviews have been published. [Geissman, T. A. "Org. React." 1944, "2", 94. (Review)]
The first reaction step is
nucleophilic additionof the base (for instance the hydroxyanion) to the carbonyl carbon of the aldehyde. The resulting alkoxide is deprotonated to give a di- anion, known as the Cannizzaro intermediate. Formation of this intermediate requires a strongly basic environment.
Both intermediates can react further with aldehyde to transfer a
hydride, "H"−. The hydridic character of the C-"H" is enhanced by the electron-donating character of the alpha oxygen anion. This hydride transfer simultaneously generates a hydroxyl anion and a carboxylate. Further evidence for the hydridic character of the Cannizzaro intermediate is provided by the formation of H2 by its reaction with water.
Only aldehydes that cannot form an
enolate ion undergo the Cannizaro reaction. The aldehyde cannot have an enolizable proton. Under the basic conditions that facilitate the reaction, aldehydes that can form an enolate instead undergo aldol condensation. Examples of aldehydes that can undergo a Cannizaro reaction include formaldehydeand aromaticaldehydes such as benzaldehyde.
A special condition is the crossed Cannizzaro reaction. This variation is more common these days because the original Cannizzaro reaction yields a mixture of alcohol and carboxylic acid. For example any aldehyde with no alpha hydrogens can be reduced when in the presence of
formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is oxidized to formic acidand the corresponding alcohol is obtained in a high yield although the atom economyis still low.
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