The Acyloin Condensation

Bloomfield, Jordan J.; Owsley, Dennis C.; Nelke, Janice M.


The acyloin condensation usually involves the reductive dimerization of a carboxylic ester, although acid chlorides and the anhydrides have been used. The reducing agent is in an alkali metal and the product is an ene-diolate. Two gram-atoms of metal are required for each mole of ester with the concomitant formation of a mole of alkoxide and one-half mole of the ene-diolate. Oxidation of acyloins to diketones can be accomplished by a variety of reagents. Acyloins can be reduced to ketones by various modifications of the Clemmenson technique. Under mild conditions the ketone will dominate. This chapter presents a complete picture of both the linear and cyclic acyloin condensation with particular emphasis on developments since 1960. The discussion is closely limited to the acyloin condensation and its modifications.