Chromium(II) acetate, better known as chromous acetate, is the compound Cr2(CH3CO2)4(H2O)2. This formula is commonly abbreviated Cr2(OAc)4(H2O)2. This compound and some of its simple derivatives illustrate one of the most remarkable properties of some metals - the ability to engage in quadruple bonds. The preparation of chromous acetate once was a standard test the synthetic skills of students due to its considerable sensitivity to air. It exists as the dihydrate and the anhydrous forms.
Cr2(OAc)4(H2O)2 is a reddish diamagnetic powder, although diamond-shaped tabular crystals can be grown. Consistent with the fact that it is non-ionic,
Cr2(OAc)4(H2O)2 exhibits poor solubility in water and methanol.
molecule contains two atoms of chromium
, two ligated
molecules of water, and four monoanionic acetate ligands
. The coordination environment around each chromium atom consists of four oxygen
atoms (one from each acetate ligand) in a square, one water molecule (in an axial position), and the other chromium atom (opposite the water molecule), giving each chromium centre an octahedral geometry
. The chromium atoms are joined together by a quadruple bond, and the molecule has D4h
symmetry (ignoring the position of the hydrogen atoms). The same basic structure is adopted by Rh2(OAc)4(H2O)2
, although these species do not have such short M---M contacts.
The quadruple bond between the two chromium atoms arises from the overlap of four d-orbitals on each metal with the same orbitals on the other metal: the z2 orbitals overlap to give a sigma bonding component, the xz and yz orbitals overlap to give two pi bonding components, and the xy orbitals give a delta bond. This quadruple bond is also confirmed by the low magnetic moment and short intermolecular distance between the two atoms of 236.2±0.1 picometers.The Cr-Cr distances are even shorter, 184 pm being the record, when the axial ligand is absent or the carboxylate is replaced with isoelectronic nitrogenous ligands.
first reported a chromium(II) acetate in 1844. His material was apparently the dimeric
. The unusual structure, as well as that of copper(II) acetate
, was uncovered in 1951.
An aqueous solution of a Cr(III) compound is first reduced to the chromous state using zinc
as a reductant
. The resulting blue chromous solution is treated with sodium acetate
. Immediately chromous acetate precipitates
as a bright red powder.
- Cr6+ + 2Zn → Cr2+ + 2 Zn2+
- 2 Cr2+ + 4 OAc- + 2 H2O → Cr2(OAc)4(H2O)2
The synthesis of Cr2
has been traditionally used to test the synthetic skills and patience of inorganic laboratory students in universities
because the accidental introduction of a small amount of air into the apparatus is readily indicated by the discoloration of the otherwise bright red product. An alternative route to related chromium(II) carboxylates starts with chromocene
- 4 HO2CR + 2 Cr(C5H5)2 → Cr2(O2CR)4 + 4 C5H6
The advantage to this method is that it provides anhydrous derivatives.
Because it is so easily prepared, Cr2(OAc)4(H2O)2 is often used as a starting material for other, chromium(II) compounds. Also many analogues have been prepared using other carboxylic acids in place of acetate and using different bases in place of the water.
is used occasionally to dehalogenate organic compounds such as α-bromoketones and chlorohydrins
. The reactions appear to proceed via 1e-
steps, and rearrangement products are sometimes observed. Because the molecule contains Cr in a +2 oxidation state it is a good reducing agent. For this reason it will reduce the O2
found in air, and so can be used as an oxygen scrubber.
Many other applications exist, including those in the polymer industry.
- Rice, S. F. (1980). "Electronic Absorption Spectrum of Chromous Acetate Dihydrate and Related Binuclear Chromous Carboxylates". Inorg. Chem. 19 3425–3431.