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Formal Cross-Coupling of Diaryl Ethers with Ammonia by Dual C(Ar)–O Bond Cleavages

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journal contribution
posted on 24.08.2018, 14:34 by Dawei Cao, Huiying Zeng, Chao-Jun Li
The conversion of renewable resources and inexpensive inorganic chemicals directly into higher value-added organic chemicals is becoming more and more important for our society’s future sustainable development. Lignin, being the second most abundant organic carbon renewable resource on Earth, has been treated as waste in the pulp and paper industry. The 4-O-5 linkage diaryl ether bond is the strongest among the three types of ether linkages in lignins. Selective cleavage of this linkage can potentially generate smaller processable bio-based aromatic polymeric materials and compounds. Furthermore, there has been a long synthetic interest in coupling reactions with aryl ethers via C­(Ar)–O bond cleavage, for example, for polyphenylene oxide (PPO) waste recycling. On the other hand, ammonia is a very inexpensive industrial inorganic chemical. Herein, we report a direct conversion of diaryl ethers and ammonia into aniline derivatives and arenes, providing a model for selective lignin 4-O-5 linkage modification and PPO recycling with inexpensive ammonia. Both symmetrical and unsymmetrical diaryl ethers were successfully cross-coupled with ammonia via dual C­(Ar)–O bond cleavages, generating the corresponding cyclohexylanilines and arenes.