The Knoevenagel Condensation

Jones, G.


Knoevenagel’s first papers in this field were concerned with the condensation of formaldehyde with diethyl malonate and with ethyl benzoylacetate. The catalyst was ethylamine. A number of other aldehydes were reported to condense similarly with diethyl malonate, ethyl benzoylacetate, ethyl benzoylpyruvate, and acetylacetone under the influence of various primary and secondary amines. In 1896, Knoevenagel reported benzaldehyde with ethyl aceoacetate condensed at room temperature in the presence of piperdine to give a bis compound, but that when the reaction was run in a freezing mixture, the product was acetoacetate. For the purposes of this chapter, the Knoevenagel condensation is defined as the reaction between an aldehyde or ketone or any compound having an active methylene group, brought about by an organic base or ammonia and their salts.