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Formates work their way into silicon chemistry

Hydrosilanes are essential chemical compounds for the silicon chemical industry. A team from the Iramis has shown that they could be advantageously replaced by silyl formates, which are potentially regenerable at will from formic acid, a substance that can be synthesized by recycling CO2.
Published on 22 January 2018

Characterized by the presence of an Si-H bond, hydrosilanes are very powerful chemical reducing agents. They especially allow the single-step transfer of a hydride (H-) and a chemical group containing Si to an organic compound with a double bond (C=C or C=O). In particular, this property is applied on an industrial scale in the functionalization of silicones and the synthesis of elastomers, and in the laboratory to reduce the C=O bonds in CO2, or for biomass.

Chemists from the Iramis have proposed to carry out these chemical reactions by replacing the hydrosilanes with a family of hydrides based on formic acid. In fact, they were able to demonstrate in the presence of ruthenium-based molecular catalysts that these hydrides - i.e. silyl formates - reduce the C=O bonds of organic (aldehyde) compounds.

The advantage of silyl formate is that it can be regenerated through the reaction of the oxidized product with formic acid. It is thus a source of renewable hydrides since it can be produced by hydrogenation or CO2 electroreduction under favorable energetic conditions.

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