The idea that the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide might be used as a source of feedstock chemicals is attractive but usually impractical — although it reacts readily with carbon-centred nucleophiles, generating the nucleophiles requires a high energy input. But now, inspired by the RuBisCO enzyme which catalyses carbon fixation in plants, Aanindeeta Banerjee et al. demonstrate that molten salts containing alkali metals at intermediate temperatures enable efficient carbonate-promoted carboxylation of very weakly acidic C–H bonds. The potential of this chemistry was illustrated by converting 2-furoic acid (readily made from inedible biomass) into the useful bio-based feedstock furan-2,5-dicarboxylic acid.
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