All About Alkenes

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Reactions Of Alkenes

Addition Reactions of Alkenes

The most common chemical transformation of a carbon-carbon double bond is the addition reaction. A large number of reagents, both inorganic and organic, have been found to add to this functional group, and in this section we shall review many of these reactions. A majority of these reactions are exothermic, due to the fact that the C-C pi-bond is relatively weak (ca. 63 kcal/mole) relative to the sigma-bonds formed to the atoms or groups of the reagent. Remember, the bond energies of a molecule are the energies required to break (homolytically) all the covalent bonds in the molecule. Consequently, if the bond energies of the product molecules are greater than the bond energies of the reactants, the reaction will be exothermic. The following calculations for the addition of H-Br are typical. Note that by convention exothermic reactions have a negative heat of reaction.

Regioselectivity and the Markovnikov Rule

Only one product is possible from the addition of these strong acids to symmetrical alkenes such as ethene and cyclohexene. However, if the double bond carbon atoms are not structurally equivalent, as in molecules of 1-butene, 2-methyl-2-butene and 1-methylcyclohexene, the reagent conceivably may add in two different ways. This is shown for 2-methyl-2-butene.

When addition reactions to such unsymmetrical alkenes are carried out, we find that one of the two possible constitutionally isomeric products is formed preferentially. Selectivity of this sort is termed regioselectivity. In the above example, 2-chloro-2-methylbutane is nearly the exclusive product. Similarly, 1-butene forms 2-bromobutane as the predominant product on treatment with HBr.

After studying many addition reactions of this kind, the Russian chemist Vladimir Markovnikov noticed a trend in the structure of the favored addition product. He formulated this trend as an empirical rule we now call The Markovnikov Rule: When a Brønsted acid, HX, adds to an unsymmetrically substituted double bond, the acidic hydrogen of the acid bonds to that carbon of the double bond that has the greater number of hydrogen atoms already attached to it.
In more homelier vernacular this rule may be restated as, “Them that has gits.

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February 3, 2010 - Posted by | Addition Reaction Of Alkenes

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