Formation or Grignard Reagents and also Organolithium Reagents indigenous Alkyl and also Alkenyl Halides

In the last write-up we presented the ide of organometallic compound – molecules where carbon is bound to a much less electronegative atom such together Li, Mg, Cu, and also many various other metals. We said that carbon in these molecules tends to be electron-rich and thus have actually nucleophilic character, in contrast to functional groups such as alkyl halides, aldehydes, ketones, and also epoxides whereby carbon has actually electrophilic character. If you require a refresher on what I intended by nucleophilic and also electrophilic, review that article first.

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In this post we’ll talk about how certain varieties of organometallic compounds space made – specifically organolithium and Grignard reagents.

Quick summary:


What, you could ask, space Et2O and also THF? These room solvents, i beg your pardon are regularly written in the reaction scheme, but don’t actually get involved in the reaction itself. Et2O (diethyl ether, or, sometimes, “ether”) and also THF (tetrahydrofuran) are famous choices. If you’re an introduce student, you most likely don’t desire to know the deeper factors why, nor perform you require to, therefore don’t click this connect to discover out.

In contrast with most of the reagents and also reactions us talk about at MOC, you’ll most likely have an individual experience doing this reaction!

Sitting around because that a couple of minutes staring at your flask comprise Mg, ether, and organohalide execute absolutely nothing is a rite of passage because that every college student of necessary chemistry.

One crucial contributor come the “finicky” nature of forming Grignard reagents is that the reaction occurs ~ above the surface of the magnesium metal. Hence the reaction is very surface area dependent. Break the Mg up right into very tiny chunks will accelerate the reaction. Furthermore, Mg that has actually been sitting the end in the open for awhile often has a surface coating that magnesium oxide (MgO) i m sorry is unreactive v alkyl halides. Break up the surface helps to expose fresh, unoxidized Mg come the reactants. A pinch of iodine (I2) or 1,2-dibromoethane deserve to also help to kick-start things.

5. Formation of Grignard Reagents: The Mechanism

What’s the mechanism of Grignard formation? generally not extended – the involves complimentary radicals – yet if you’re curious, hover right here for a pop-up viwe or click here for an image. 

From a practical perspective, one key thing come make certain of when preparing organolithium or Grignard reagents is that the solvent and glassware are completely dry. Water (pKa 16) is death to Grignard and organolithium reagents, which as we said above, act as the tantamount of highly basic alkyl and also alkenyl anions.

In the next post, we’ll talk around this and additionally some various other complications of make Grignard reagents.

Next post: Organometallics Are strong Bases


What around Organosodium Reagents?

So if lithium works, why no go more down the pillar of the regular table? Why not use sodium?

This is fantastic idea – sodium is a an excellent reducing agent, ~ all. The trouble is, when we shot to do organosodium reagents from alkyl halides, what has tendency to take place is that the carbanions that form then walk on to react v our beginning alkyl halide (in an SN2 process). The result is a nice useless reaction you most likely don’t need to care around that we contact Wurtz coupling.

That’s OK, however. Organolithium reagents are many reactive enough for practically every objective that we’d otherwise desire organosodium reagents to do. I mean, who requirements Chuck Norris once you’ve got Jackie Chan?

Likewise for organopotassium reagents. The one application of organopotassium reagents the sees typical use is a reagent dubbed Schlösser’s Überbase , i beg your pardon is strong enough come deprotonate allylic C-H bonds, other not quickly done through organolithium reagents.

(Advanced) References and also Further Reading:

Grignard, V. C. Acad. Sci.

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1900, 130, 1322-1324 The original paper by Victor Grignard describing a new method for alcohol synthesis from hydrocarbons.The Grignard Reaction – Unraveling a chemical Puzzle