Allene (C3H4) gas is produced and separated on million-metric-ton scale per year during petroleum refining but is rarely employed in organic synthesis. Meanwhile, the addition of an allyl group (C3H5) to ketones is among the most common and prototypical reactions in synthetic chemistry. Herein, we report that the combination of allene gas with inexpensive and environmentally benign hydrosilanes, such as PMHS, can serve as a replacement for stoichiometric quantities of allylmetal reagents, which are required in most enantioselective ketone allylation reactions. This process is catalyzed by copper salts and commercially available ligands, operates without specialized equipment or pressurization, and tolerates a broad range of functional groups. Furthermore, the exceptional chemoselectivity of this catalyst system enables industrially relevant C3 hydrocarbon mixtures of allene with methylacetylene and propylene to be applied directly.
“Enantioselective Allylation Using Allene, a Petroleum Cracking Byproduct”, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2019, 141, 2251-2256.