Ethylene is one of the most important building blocks in industry for the production of polymers and commodity chemicals. 13C- and D-isotope-labeled ethylenes are also valuable reagents with applications ranging from polymer-structure determination, reaction-mechanism elucidation to the preparation of more complex isotopically labeled compounds. However, these isotopic derivatives are expensive, and are flammable gases, which are difficult to handle. We have developed a method for the controlled generation of ethylene and its isotopic variants including, for the first time, fully isotopically labeled ethylene, from simple alkene precursors by using Ru catalysis. Applying a two-chamber reactor allows both the synthesis of ethylene and its immediate consumption in a chemical transformation permitting reactions to be performed with only stoichiometric amounts of this two carbon olefin. This was demonstrated in the Ni-catalyzed Heck reaction with aryl triflates and benzyl chlorides, as well as Ru-mediated enyne metathesis.
Chemistry: a European Journal, 2013, Vol 19, Issue 51