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17.12: Reduction of Aromatic Compounds

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    Reduction of Aromatic CompoundsEdit section

    Although it does so less readily than simple alkenes or dienes, benzene adds hydrogen at high pressure in the presence of Pt, Pd or Ni catalysts. The product is cyclohexane and the heat of reaction provides evidence of benzene's thermodynamic stability. Substituted benzene rings may also be reduced in this fashion, and hydroxy-substituted compounds, such as phenol, catechol and resorcinol, give carbonyl products resulting from the fast ketonization of intermediate enols. Nickel catalysts are often used for this purpose, as noted in the following equations.


    Reduction of Nitro Groups and Aryl Ketones Substituents on Benzene Rings

    Electrophilic nitration and Friedel-Crafts acylation reactions introduce deactivating, meta-directing substituents on an aromatic ring. The attached atoms are in a high oxidation state, and their reduction converts these electron withdrawing functions into electron donating amino and alkyl groups. Reduction is easily achieved either by catalytic hydrogenation (H2 + catalyst), or with reducing metals in acid. Examples of these reductions are shown here, equation 6 demonstrating the simultaneous reduction of both functions. Note that the butylbenzene product in equation 4 cannot be generated by direct Friedel-Crafts alkylation due to carbocation rearrangement. The zinc used in ketone reductions, such as 5, is usually activated by alloying with mercury (a process known as amalgamation).


    Several alternative methods for reducing nitro groups to amines are known. These include zinc or tin in dilute mineral acid, and sodium sulfide in ammonium hydroxide solution. The procedures described above are sufficient for most cases.

    The Birch Reduction

    Another way of adding hydrogen to the benzene ring is by treatment with the electron rich solution of alkali metals, usually lithium or sodium, in liquid ammonia. See examples of this reaction, which is called the Birch Reduction. The Birch reduction is the dissolving-metal reduction of aromatic rings in the presence of an alcohol.





    26. How would you make the following from benzene and an acid chloride?



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