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In 1877, Charles Friedel and James Craft discovered a chemical reaction for quickly producing raw materials for plastics, fine chemicals and detergents. More than 100 years later, in 1994, the American George Olah won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for understanding the mechanism behind this important reaction. This is also how it has been described in Chemistry textbooks for almost 30 years. However, recently some chemists claimed the Nobel Prize winning reaction mechanism doesn’t always apply. Now, chemists at Utrecht University refute this claim. They managed to detect the two most important reaction intermediates from Olah’s reaction mechanism in the situation under debate. Olah, who passed away in March, has now received posthumous confirmation. The results of the study will be published online in Nature Catalysis on 20 November.

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Electrophilic aromatic substitution over zeolites generates Wheland-type reaction intermediates.
Abhishek Dutta Chowdhury, Klaartje Houben, Gareth T. Whiting, Sang-Ho Chung, Marc Baldus and Bert M.\ Weckhuysen Nature Catalysis 2018, 1, DOI: 10.1038/s41929-017-0002-4

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