There is a reduction reaction of phenol with zinc dust which is found in many books.

$\ce{Ph-OH + Zn -> Benzene + ZnO}$

However, a simple google search fails to explain anything about the reaction. So, I put forth my questions:

1) What is the name of the reaction and who invented it?

I have already done a google search, but it yields no results. My textbook also mentions nothing about the inventor of the reaction, or any name of the reaction. I understand that every reaction might not have a name, but at least it must have an inventor. You can't say that the reduction of phenol by distilling it with zinc dust is known from time immemorial. Can you?

2)What is the reaction mechanism of the reaction?

This and this page writes about a mechanism of the reaction. If drawn, I suppose it would look like this: mechanism It would certainly explain the formation of biphenyl and hydrogen ( if they are indeed formed). But the problem is that no reference is given in the answers. There is at least one book or paper which wrote about the mechanism.

So, if you answer, please add a reference if possible. If you think that the above mechanism might be incorrect, then also add an answer. I want your insights on this problem.

[Note: There is another question at Reaction of phenol with Zinc dust which is similar. But I have already drawn a mechanism and I am asking a different question here. So I don't think this question is a duplicate.]

  • $\begingroup$ Strongly related though unanswered: chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/8994/… $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 25, 2017 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ Even you questioned once: chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/81717/… $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 25, 2017 at 16:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If this gets answer, old unanswered should be closed as dupe. BTW why everyone thinks that mechanisms for heterogenic reactions are known? $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Dec 25, 2017 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ @NilayGhosh, Yes I did post a question but that is a different question. And I have already mentioned about the related question in my question in the [note] part. $\endgroup$
    – S R Maiti
    Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 8:43

1 Answer 1


Ludwig Gattermann's The Practical Methods of Organic Chemistry (translated into English, 1896) has two references to reduction of aromatics with zinc dust:

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The first one refers to Liebigs Annalen, issue 140, page 295 (1866):

Ueber die Reduction aromatischer Verbindungen mittelst Zinkstaub, Adolf Baeyer

This roughly translates to "On the reduction of aromatic compounds using zinc dust".

The second one refers to Chemische Berichte, issue 1, page 43 (1868):

Ueber Alizarin und Anthracen, C. Graebe C. Liebermann

This translates to "On alizarin and anthracen". Wiley, who now owns the Berichte, cites the page numbers as 49-51.

Name of the reaction

The reaction is given without name, even in modern textbooks. Maybe it should be called Baeyer reduction of aromatic oxygen-containing compounds.

Mechanism of the reaction

Maybe this would be a good research project because it does not seem like the mechanism is known.


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