Nucleophilic addition of arylmethylzinc reagents (ArCH2ZnCl) to formaldehyde: An easy access to 2-(hetro)arylethyl alcohols

The selective addition of arylmethylmagnesium halides with formaldehyde giving arylethyl alcohols is extremely challenging. To circumvent the difficulties, in the current communication, we have reported on the nucleophilic addition of benzyl zinc reagents derived from inexpensive and abundant benzyl chlorides to paraformaldehyde. The reaction investigated herein is hitherto unknown and was found to be selective, operationally simple, atom- and step-economical and high yielding to deliver phenethyl alcohols utilized as key perfumery ingredients in 60–83% yields. After successful establishment of the reaction condition, the reaction was also scaled up successfully to deliver a large-scale preparation of the phenethyl alcohol.