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Keywords:

  • Complex reducing agents;
  • Reduction;
  • Sodium hydride;
  • Synthetic methods

Abstract

Why do we hardly use the simplest and, at the same time, inexpensive reducing agent sodium hydride in organic chemistry? To this question the answer is invariably: “It is too basic”. In this progress report we describe work we have performed aimed at controlling the basicity of NaH using sodium alcoholates and metal salts. The complex reducing agents (CRA's) developed (symbolized NaH-RONa-MXn) allow organic halides, alkenes, alkynes and ketones to be reduced selectively. Highly regioselective 1,4- and 1,2-reductions of α,β-unsaturated ketones are easily performed using appropriate metal salts. Modified CRA's have proved to be excellent hydrosilylating reagents for carbonyl groups, non-pyrophoric heterogeneous hydrogenation catalysts, coupling reagents for aryl and vinyl halides, and reagents for the carbonylation of organic halides under very mild conditions. The study of these reactions opened up the field to phase-transfer-catalyzed photostimulated carbonylations as well as to SRN1 reactions of metalates.–Thus, starting from the simple sodium hydride a large number of useful reagents have become accessible.