The present invention provides a method of preparing a phosphonium salt of the formula [R.sup.1 R.sup.2 R.sup.3 P--CR.sup.4 R.sup.5 R.sup.6 ]X, comprising ball-milling a phosphine of the formula R.sup.1 R.sup.2 R.sup.3 P with a compound of the formula XCR.sup.4 R.sup.5 R.sup.6 ; a method of preparing a phosphorus ylide of the formula R.sup.1 R.sup.2 R.sup.3 P.dbd.CR.sup.4 R.sup.5, comprising ball-milling a phosphonium salt of the formula [R.sup.1 R.sup.2 R.sup.3 P--HCR.sup.4 R.sup.5 ]X in the presence of a base; and a method of preparing an olefin of the formula R.sup.4 R.sup.5 C.dbd.CR.sup.7 H or R.sup.4 R.sup.5 C.dbd.CR.sup.7 R.sup.8, comprising ball-milling a phosphorus ylide of the formula R.sup.1 R.sup.2 R.sup.3 P.dbd.CR.sup.4 R.sup.5 with a compound of the formula R.sup.7 C(O)H or R.sup.7 C(O)R.sup.8. The inventive method produces phosphonium salts and phosphorus ylides by mechanical processing solid reagents under solvent-free conditions. The advantages of the present invention over conventional solution methods, include: (1) extremely high selectivity; (2) high yields; (3) low processing temperatures; (4) simple and scalable reactions using commercially available equipment; and (5) the complete elimination of solvents from the reaction.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
This invention was made in part with Government support under Contract Number W-7405-ENG-82 awarded by the Department of Energy (DOE). The Government may have certain rights in this invention.