Synthesis of 3,4-Dihydro-2H-pyrroles from Ketones, Aldehydes, and Nitro Alkanes via Hydrogenative Cyclization

Syntheses of N-heterocyclic compounds that permit a flexible introduction of various substitution patterns using inexpensive and diversely available starting materials are highly desirable. Easy to handle and reusable catalysts based on earth-abundant metals are especially attractive for these syntheses. We report here on the synthesis of 3,4-dihydro-2H-pyrroles via the hydrogenation and cyclization of nitro ketones. The latter are easily accessible from three components: a ketone, an aldehyde and a nitroalkane. Our reaction has a broad scope and 23 of the 33 products synthesized are compounds which have not yet been reported. The key to the general hydrogenation/cyclization reaction is a highly active, selective and reusable nickel catalyst, which was identified from a library of 24 earth-abundant metal catalysts.