Microwave irradiation is a powerful tool in organic synthesis
due to its ability to speed up chemical reactions and increase
product yields. Indeed, dedicated microwave synthesizers
have found their way into mainstream organic synthesis for
most types of reactions, with the exception of hydrogenations.
Typically, hydrogenation reactions that utilize microwave
irradiation proceed by way of a hydrogen transfer reaction or
use a reagent that generates hydrogen gas in situ.1 This was
the driving force for Dr. Grace Vanier to explore the ability
to add hydrogen gas directly to the reaction mixture (Figure
1). Hydrogenations under microwave irradiation use power
instead of high pressure (> 1000 PSI) to drive a chemical
reaction to completion. This allows for conditions at moderate
temperatures (50 – 80 ºC) and low pressures (50 – 200 psi) for
a safer reaction without sacrificing high yields.