Acta Physico-Chimica Sinica ›› 2018, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (8): 838-844.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB201712271

Special Issue: Green Chemistry

• REVIEW • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Green Catalysis for Three-Component Reaction of Carbon Dioxide, Propargylic Alcohols and Nucleophiles

Zhihua ZHOU1,Shumei XIA1,Liangnian HE1,2,*()   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory and Institute of Elemento-Organic Chemistry, College of Chemistry, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, P. R. China
    2 Collaborative Innovation Center of Chemical Science and Engineering (Tianjin), Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, P. R. China
  • Received:2017-12-05 Accepted:2017-12-25 Published:2018-04-03
  • Contact: Liangnian HE
  • Supported by:
    the National Key Research and Development Program(2016YFA0602900);National Natural Science Foundation of China(21472103);National Natural Science Foundation of China(21421001);National Natural Science Foundation of China(21421062);National Natural Science Foundation of China(21672119);Natural Science Foundation of Tianjin Municipality(16JCZDJC39900)


Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the main greenhouse gases that can be utilized as a useful C1 source owing to its abundance, non-toxicity, and renewability. In fact, the transformation of carbon dioxide into valuable organic molecules has attracted considerable attention over the past decades. One-pot multicomponent reactions generally proceed with more than two different raw materials reacting in one pot, thus simplifying the reaction in operation and workup. In this regard, a three-component reaction of CO2, propargylic alcohols, and nucleophiles such as amines, water, and alcohols, to prepare useful carbonyl compounds (e.g., carbamates, oxazolidinones, α-hydroxyl ketones, and organic carbonates) is particularly appealing because of the advantages of step and atom economy. From a mechanistic point of view, the three-component reaction of CO2, a propargylic alcohol, and a nucleophile is a type of cascade reaction, involving the carboxylative cyclization of CO2 and propargylic alcohol, and subsequent reaction of a nucleophile with the in situ formed α-alkylidene cyclic carbonate. On the other hand, reactions involving CO2 are generally thermodynamically unfavorable because of the thermodynamic stability and kinetic inertness of CO2. Cyclic carbonates are widely used in organic synthesis, and their preparation from vicinal diols and CO2 represents a green synthetic method because biomass is utilized as the source of vicinal diols. However, the low yields of cyclic carbonates are obtained in most cases because of thermodynamic limitations and deactivation of the catalyst by water, which is the co-product of cyclic carbonates. The most commonly used method to improve the yields of cyclic carbonates involves the addition of dehydrating agents. However, decreased selectivity is often observed because of the side reaction of vicinal diols with the hydrolysis products of the dehydrating agent. In addition, the reaction of 2-aminoethanols and CO2 to obtain the corresponding 2-oxazolidinones also encounters the analogous thermodynamic limitation. To solve this problem, an efficient three-component reaction of CO2, propargylic alcohols, and nucleophiles was developed to offer thermodynamically favorable ways for converting CO2 into cyclic carbonates and 2-oxazolidinones with vicinal diols or 2-aminoethanols as nucleophiles. In this strategy, water is not generated and the α-alkylidene cyclic carbonate formed from CO2 and propargylic alcohol as the actual carbonyl source reacts with vicinal diol or 2-aminoethanol to give the corresponding cyclic carbonates or 2-oxazolidinones in high yields and selectivity with the simultaneous formation of hydroxyketones. This review aims to summarize and discuss the recent advances in three-component reactions of CO2, propargylic alcohols, and nucleophiles to prepare various carbonyl compounds promoted by both metal catalysts and organocatalysts.

Key words: Three-component reaction, Carbon dioxide conversion, Propargylic alcohols, Green catalysis, Thermodynamically favorable strategy