All About Alkenes webblog

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.

For information, click here.

February 3, 2010 Posted by | Addition Reaction Of Alkenes | Leave a comment

Alkene-Addition Reaction

Alkenes react in many addition reaction, which occur by opening up the double-bond.

  • Catalytic hydrogenation: Hydrogenation of alkenes produces the corresponding alkaness. The reaction is carried out under pressure in the presence of a metallic catalyst. Common industrial catalysts are based on platinumm, nickel or palladium. For laboratory syntheses, Raney nickel (an alloy of nickel and aluminium)is often employed. The simplest example of this reaction is the catalytic hydrogenation of ethylene to yield ethane:
CH2=CH2 + H2 → CH3-CH3
  • Electrophilic halogenation: Addition of elemental bromine or chlorine to alkenes yields vicinal dibromo- and dichloroalkanes, respectively. The decoloration of a solution of bromine in water is an analytical test for the presence of alkenes:
CH2=CH2 + Br2 → BrCH2-CH2Br
It is also used as a quantitive test of unsaturation, expressed as the bromine number of a single compound or mixture. The reaction works because the high electron density at the double bond causes a temporary shift of electrons in the Br-Br bond causing a temporary induced dipole. This makes the Br closest to the double bond slightly positive and therefore an electrophile.
  • Hydrohalogenation: Addition of hydrohalic acids such as HCl and HBr :CH3-CH=CH2 + HBr → CH3-CHBr-CH2H
If the two carbon atoms at the double bond are linked to a different number of hydrogen atoms, the halogen is found preferentially at the carbon with fewer hydrogen substituents (Markovnikov’s rule).
To read more, go to

January 31, 2010 Posted by | Addition Reaction Of Alkenes | Leave a comment