RANEY® cobalt – an underutilised reagent for the selective cleavage of C–X and N–O bonds
RANEY® cobalt, which was first prepared in the 1930s, is known to function effectively as a catalyst for certain chemoselective reductions. However, its utility in chemical synthesis does not seem to have been fully appreciated. This first comprehensive survey of the literature on chemical transformations involving RANEY® cobalt attempts to redress matters by, among other things, highlighting the differences between the performance of this system and its much more well-known but usually less selective congener RANEY® nickel. A reliable method for preparing consistently effective RANEY® cobalt is presented together with a protocol that avoids the need to use it with high pressures of dihydrogen. As such, it is hoped more attention will now be accorded to the title reagent that offers considerable promise as a powerful tool for chemical synthesis, particularly in the assembly of polycyclic frameworks through tandem reductive cyclisation processes.