, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 351-353

Acceleration of HCN oligomerization by formaldehyde and related compounds: Implications for prebiotic syntheses

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Formaldehyde and other simple carbonyl compounds are known to react rapidly with HCN in aqueous solution to produce the corresponding cyanohydrin compounds. We have observed that these cyanohydrins markedly accelerate the rate of HCN oligomeri-zation, both in homogeneous solution as well as in the frozen state. These results, for which a tentative mechanism is suggested, significantly extend the possible range of conditions for HCN oligomerization on the prebiotic Earth.