Researchers at McGill University have discovered a new, more environmentally friendly way to make ketones, an important chemical ingredient in pharmaceuticals. While ketones are found in a wide range of useful chemicals, they are commonly prepared through energy-intensive, multi-step technologies that create significant chemical waste.
In an article published online last month in Nature Chemistry, the McGill scientists demonstrate how carbon monoxide, a widely available by-product of combustion, can instead be used to form high-energy chemicals that react directly with benzene to generate ketones. “This approach could offer a new and green method to activate readily available, but inert hydrocarbons, and use them to make a variety of valuable products,” says McGill chemistry professor Bruce Arndtsen, senior author of the study.
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