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J Org Chem. 2014 Aug 1;79(15):6832-9. doi: 10.1021/jo500733v. Epub 2014 Jul 16.

How does aqueous solubility of organic reactant affect a water-promoted reaction?

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State Key Laboratory of Elemento-organic Chemistry, Collaborative Innovation Center of Chemical Science and Engineering (Tianjin), Nankai University , Tianjin 300071, China.


It was widely reported that under the "on water" condition, various water-promoted organic reactions can proceed with very high speed. Thus, it is considered that the aqueous solubility of reactant is not an important issue in these reactions. Three types of water-promoted organic reactions were investigated in the current study to distinguish whether the reaction rate of an aqueous reaction was affected by the aqueous solubilities of the reactants. The results showed that, for a Diels-Alder reaction which was fast under the neat conditions, the aqueous solubilities of reactants had little influence on the reaction. However, for the reactions which proceeded slowly under the neat conditions, such as [2σ+2σ+2π] cycloaddition reactions and epoxide aminolysis reactions, the reactants with good aqueous solubilities proceeded fast in water. Poorly aqueous soluble reactants reacted slowly or did not react under the "on water" condition, and an appropriate amount of organic cosolvent was needed to make the reaction become efficient. This evidence suggested that for these two types of reactions, the dissolution of the reactants in water was required.

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