Improved 2-pyridyl reductive homocoupling reaction using biorenewable solvent Cyrene™ (dihydrolevoglucosenone)†
The synthesis of 5,5′-bis(trifluoromethyl)-2,2′-bipyridine using 2-bromo-5-(trifluoromethyl) pyridine was achieved at 50 °C using palladium acetate, tetrabutylammonium iodide (TBAI), potassium carbonate, and isopropanol in Cyrene™ (dihydrolevoglucosenone), a bio-renewable “green” solvent formed by a two-step process from cellulose. Improvements were achieved with 50% of γ-valerolactone (GVL) in Cyrene™ resulting in a 95% yield and 99% product purity without the use of column chromatography or recrystallization. At 80 °C, the reaction was completed within 1 h. Full conversion with 1 mol% instead of 15 mol% of palladium acetate was observed within 10 h. We showed that the formed 2,2′-bipyridine product significantly accelerated the reaction probably due to the stabilization of the catalytic species. The addition of TBAI was essential for the rapid homocoupling, however, 20 mol% of TBAI was sufficient to reach full conversion of 2-bromo-5-(trifluoromethyl) pyridine within 6 h at 80 °C. Another improvement was observed with the substitution of isopropanol by 1,4-butanediol achieving full conversion within 6 h. 2-Bromopyridines with electron withdrawing substituents in the 6, 5, 4 ring position reacted under these conditions. 2-Bromopyridines with an electron donating substituent reacted slower. Overall, we demonstrated that the 50% GVL in Cyrene™ blend is a superior “green” and less toxic alternative to dimethylformamide for the reductive homocoupling reaction. Using a quantitative scoring for twelve principles of green chemistry (DOZN™), we found significant improvements that were mediated by higher yield (atom economy), shorter heating time and lower reaction temperature (energy efficiency), safer solvent (hazardous chemical synthesis), and safer chemistry (accident prevention).