Electrochemical reduction of aromatic ketones in 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium-based ionic liquids in the presence of carbon dioxide: the influence of the ketone substituent and the ionic liquid anion on bulk electrolysis product distribution
Electrochemical reduction of aromatic ketones, including acetophenone, benzophenone and 4-phenylbenzophenone, has been undertaken in 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium-based ionic liquids containing tetrafluoroborate ([BF4]−), trifluoromethanesulfonate ([TfO]−) and tris(pentafluoroethyl)trifluorophosphate ([FAP]−) anions in the presence of carbon dioxide in order to investigate the ketone substituent effect and the influence of the acidic proton on the imidazolium cation (C2–H) on bulk electrolysis product distribution. For acetophenone, the minor products were dimers (<10%) in all ionic liquids, which are the result of acetophenone radical anion coupling. For benzophenone and 4-phenylbenzophenone, no dimers were formed due to steric hindrance. In these cases, even though carboxylic acids were obtained, the main products generated were alcohols (>50%) derived from proton coupled electron transfer reactions involving the electrogenerated radical anions and C2–H. In the cases of both acetophenone and benzophenone, the product distribution is essentially independent of the ionic liquid anion. By contrast, 4-phenylbenzophenone shows a product distribution that is dependent on the ionic liquid anion. Higher yields of carboxylic acids (∼40%) are obtained with [TfO]− and [FAP]− anions because in these ionic liquids the C2–H is less acidic, making the formation of alcohol less favourable. In comparison with benzophenone, a higher yield of carboxylic acid (>30% versus ∼15%) was obtained with 4-phenylbenzophenone in all ionic liquids due to the weaker basicity of 4-phenylbenzophenone radical anion.