What is Alkylation?


Alkylation is the addition of an alkyl group (a saturated hydrocarbon) to organic molecule. The compound that supplies the alkyl group being transferred can be an alkyl halide, alkene, dialkyl sulfate, or any of a number of other organic compounds.

There are a variety of alkylation processes that can be used to produce desired products. For example, Williamson Ether Synthesis and Friedel-Crafts alkylation represent 2 of the more well-known techniques that can be used to add an alkyl group to an organic molecule.

Both of these technologies have been used in the production of fine chemicals at Jayhawk Fine Chemicals. This article will explore the process of alkylation through Williamson Ether Synthesis in more detail:

Alkylation Via Williamson Ether Synthesis

Williamson Ether Synthesis (WES) is an SN2 reaction, in which there is simultaneous bond breakage in the molecule that supplies the alkyl group and bond formation between the alkyl group and the accepting molecule.

In the case of WES reaction, an alcohol is transformed into an ether by replacement of the alcoholic proton with an alkyl group. Typically, the alcohol is deprotonated with a base, such as sodium hydroxide, and the resulting alkoxide ion reacts with an alkyl halide to form the ether product and the by-product sodium halide salt. For example, the production of anisole by the reaction of phenol and methyl chloride is a good example of this chemistry.

Alkylation using this methodology can take several hours to complete and typically runs at elevated temperatures, often between 50 – 100°C, although, higher temperature can be used to allow the use of less acidic or basic compounds.

Alkylation Services from Evonik Jayhawk

JAYHAWK is a specialist in fine chemical custom manufacture, with a local mindset and a global reach determining our everyday processes. We provide a range of products and services, with flexible unit operations and a broad range of synthesis technologies to lend our technical expertise to clients all over the world.

We offer custom alkylation processes at our innovative site, which can serve as an extension of your manufacturing operations. If you would like to know more, please do not hesitate to contact us.