Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 351–353

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

  • Alan W. Schwartz
  • M. Goverde

DOI: 10.1007/BF01733902

Cite this article as:
Schwartz, A.W. & Goverde, M. J Mol Evol (1982) 18: 351. doi:10.1007/BF01733902


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.

Key words

HCN HCN Oligomers Chemical Evolution Primitive Earth Formaldehyde Cyanohydrins Catalysis 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan W. Schwartz
    • 1
  • M. Goverde
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory for ExobiologyFaculty of Science, The UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands

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