Zirconium(III) Chloride

ZrCl3

[10241-03-9]  · Cl3Zr  · Zirconium(III) Chloride  · (MW 197.57)

(complex formation, potential reducing agent)

Physical Data: mp above 400 °C (disproportionation to Zr and ZrCl4); d 3.0 g cm-3.

Solubility: reacts with protic solvents with formation of H2 gas; sol benzene, toluene, CS2.

Form Supplied in: blue-black solid; changes to brown upon air exposure; not widely available. Synthesized from Zr and ZrCl4.1

Purification: none, except new synthesis.

Handling, Storage, and Precautions: extremely hygroscopic; decomposed by moist air. Dissolving in H2O destroys the compound with ZrOCl2, H2, and HCl formation. Heating in air forms ZrCl4 needles and ZrO2. Disproportionates to Zr and ZrCl4 above 400 °C. Reagent causes burns, and is harmful if inhaled or swallowed. Use in a fume hood.

General Discussion.

Zirconium trichloride can be prepared from finely divided zirconium metal and Zirconium(IV) Chloride at elevated temperature (500 °C or more).1,2

The chemistry of tervalent zirconium halides is relatively unexplored. So far, the main interest has been directed towards complex formation with mono- and bidentate nitrogen donor ligands, e.g. acetonitrile, pyridine, lutidines, bipyridine, and phenanthroline.2-4

There appear to be no reports in the literature on the use of zirconium trichloride nor its complexes in directed organic reactions. This stands in contrast to the wide use of Titanium(III) Chloride in reductive coupling reactions of oxo compounds to vicinal diols and alkenes and reduction of functional groups.


1. Swaroop, B.; Flengas, S. N. CJC 1964, 42, 1495.
2. Larsen, E. M.; Henzler, T. E. IC 1974, 13, 581.
3. Fowles, G. W. A.; Russ, B. J.; Willey, G. R. CC 1967, 646.
4. Fowles, G. W. A.; Willey, G. R. JCS(A) 1968, 1435.

Lise-Lotte Gundersen

Norwegian College of Pharmacy, Oslo, Norway

Frode Rise & Kjell Undheim

University of Oslo, Norway



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