In 1887, the Russian chemist Sergei Reformatsky at the University of Kiev discoveredthat treatment of an a-haloester with zinc metal in the presence of an aldehyde or aketone followed by hydrolysis in aqueous acid results in formation of a b-hydroxyester.This reaction is similar to a Grignard reaction in that a key intermediate is an organo-metallic compound, in this case, a zinc salt of an ester enolate anion. Grignard reagents,however, are so reactive that they undergo self-condensation with the ester.
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