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Synthesis of alkanes

Kolbe Electrolysis

The electrochemical oxidative decarboxylation of carboxylic acid salts that leads to radicals, which dimerize. It is best applied to the synthesis of symmetrical dimers, but in some cases can be used with a mixture of two carboxylic acids to furnish unsymmetrical dimers.


Mechanism of the Kolbe Electrolysis

Side products:

The formation of side products depends on the ease of the follow-up oxidation which leads to carbenium ions, and their subsequent rearrangement:

Recent Literature


Kolbe Carbon-Carbon Coupling Electrosynthesis Using Solid-Supported Bases
H. Kurihara, T. Fuchigami, T. Tajima, J. Org. Chem., 2008, 73, 6888-6890.


Synthesis of Five- and Six-Membered-Ring Compounds by Environmentally Friendly Radical Cyclizations Using Kolbe Electrolysis
F.Lebreux, F. Buzzo, I. E. Markó, Synlett, 2008, 2815-2820.