Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

SN1: Synthesis of t-butyl chloride


Alkyl halides can be prepared from their corresponding alcohols via an acid catalyzed substitution reaction. The mechanism of these acid catalyzed substitution reactions are labeled as SN1 (substitution, nucleophilic, unimolecular) and SN2 (substitution, nucleophilic, bimolecular). Tertiary alcohols follow the SN1 route, primary alcohols follow the SN2 route, and secondary alcohols can follow either path.

Under acidic conditions, the mechanism of the SN1 reaction involves rapid protonation of the alcohol, followed by the loss of water as the rate-determining step. This generates a relatively stable carbocation which is then attacked by the halide ion to form the alkyl halide. SN1 reactions are favored by tertiary alcohols because they tend to form more stable carbocations.

The product will be verified by gas chromatography by comparing the chromatograms of the starting material, tert-butyl chloride standard, and your product. Confirmation of your product, tert-butyl chloride, can also be performed by reacting the product with a solution of silver nitrate in ethanol. The tertiary alkyl halide will react by means of an SN1 mechanism with the silver nitrate to form an insoluble silver halide. The appearance of a precipitate indicates a positive result indicating the presence of a tertiary alkyl halide.


In this experiment, you will

  • Synthesize tert-butyl chloride via an SN1 reaction.
  • Confirm the presence of a tertiary alkyl halide using the silver nitrate test.
  • Verify the product by gas chromatography.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Organic Chemistry with Vernier

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Determining Melting Temperature
3Determination of a Boiling Point
4Identifying an Unknown Analgesic by Three Methods
5Separation of Organic Compounds by Acid-Base Extraction Techniques
6Understanding Polarimetry
7Identification of Organic Unknowns Using Polarimetry
8Investigating Gas Chromatography
9Fractional Distillation of Esters
10Understanding Intermolecular Forces Using a Gas Chromatograph: Enthalpy of Vaporization
11Investigating Thermodynamic Relationships of Substituted Hydrocarbons
12Extraction of Spinach Pigments and Analysis by Electronic Absorption Spectroscopy
13SN1: Synthesis of t-butyl chloride
14SN2: Synthesis of 1-bromobutane
15Observing the Reaction Kinetics of Sucrose with Polarimetry
16The Synthesis and Analysis of Aspirin
17Isolation of R-(+)-Limonene from Oranges using Steam Distillation
18Synthesizing Ethyl Acetate by Fisher Esterification
19Synthesis of Dibenzalacetone by Aldol Condensation
20The Diels-Alder Reaction of Anthracene with Maleic Anhydride
21Friedel-Crafts Acylation of Ferrocene
22Grignard Formation of Crystal Violet
23Synthesis of Fluorescein
24Synthesis of Methyl Orange and Its Application to Textiles
25Analysis of Natural Products
26Using a Gas Chromatograph: Identifying an Unknown Compound

Experiment 13 from Organic Chemistry with Vernier Lab Book

<i>Organic Chemistry with Vernier</i> book cover

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