Red-Al®, or sodium bis(2-methoxyethoxy)aluminum dihydride (Vitride®, SMEAH), is a versatile reducing agent and a good substitute for LiAlH4 in many reactions. Red-Al® is nonpyrophoric, although still moisture-sensitive, and is available in solution, allowing for easier handling compared to LiAlH4.

Red-Al® is particularly effective at the reduction of epoxides. A recent example employs Red-Al® in a key step in the asymmetric synthesis of (R)-fluoxetine hydrochloride. The enantiomerically pure α,β-epoxyamide was reduced by Red-Al® in the presence of 15-crown-5 to produce the β-hydroxyamide in good yield and excellent selectivity (Scheme 23).1


Scheme 23

Cao and co-workers utilized Red-Al® to convert propargyl chlorides to allenes, which were subsequently used in a tandem Pauson-Khand reaction to create 3,7-diisopropylsilyldicyclopenta-[a,e]pentalene, a 14π annulene (Scheme 24).2

Cao and co-workers utilized Red-Al®

Scheme 24

The preparation of highly functionalized α,β-disubstituted alkenoates can be achieved under mild conditions by reducing an acetylenic ester with Red-Al® and quenching the reaction with iodine to yield the vinyl iodide. The vinyl iodide can be subsequently transformed via Sonogashira or Stille coupling to form the desired α,β-disubstituted alkenoates (Scheme 25).

Preparation of highly functionalized α,β-disubstituted alkenoates

Scheme 25

Red-Al® displays excellent (E)-selectivity in the reduction and does not reduce the methyl ester.3 Red-Al® reduction can selectively produce dialdehydes from aromatic diesters in the presence of N-methylpiperazine (Scheme 26). Although Red-Al® is regularly employed in the reduction of esters to aldehydes, reduction of the diester without the addition of the amine produced only the dicarbinol.4

Red-Al® displays excellent

Scheme 26



Kakei H, Nemoto T, Ohshima T, Shibasaki M. 2004. Efficient Synthesis of Chiral?- and?-Hydroxy Amides: Application to the Synthesis of (R)-Fluoxetine. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.. 43(3):317-320.
Cao H, et al. 2003. The Synthesis of a Dicyclopenta[a,e]pentalene via a Molybdenum Hexacarbonyl-Mediated Tandem Allenic Pauson−Khand Reaction. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 125:3230.
Meta CT, Koide K. 2004. Trans-Selective Conversions of γ-Hydroxy-α,β-Alkynoic Esters to γ-Hydroxy-α,β-Alkenoic Esters. Org. Lett.. 6(11):1785-1787.
Hagiya K, et al. 2003. A Facile and Selective Synthetic Method for the Preparation of Aromatic Dialdehydes from Diesters via the Amine-Modified SMEAH Reduction System. Synthesis. 823.