Edexcel A Level Chemistry:复习笔记7.5.2 Primary Aliphatic Amines

Reactions of Primary Aliphatic Amines


Reactions with water

  • The first few members of the homologous series of primary aliphatic amines are miscible with water
    • However as the hydrocarbon part of the molecule becomes longer, the solubility decreases
    • Phenylamine is only slightly soluble in water
  • They dissolve in water as they are able to form hydrogen bonds with water molecules
  • Amines also react slightly with water to form alkaline solutions

CH3NH2 + H2O ⇌ CH3NH3+ + OH-

Reactions with acids

  • Amines react with strong acids to form ionic ammonium salts

CH3NH2 (aq) + HCl (aq) → CH3NH3+Cl- (aq)
Methylamine           methylammonium chloride

  • Addition of NaOH to an ammonium salt will convert it back to the amine
  • These ionic salts will be solid crystals, if the water is evaporated, because of the strong ionic interactions
  • The ionic salts formed in this reaction means that the compounds are soluble in the acid
    • e.g. Phenylamine is not very soluble in water but phenylammonium chloride is soluble

Reactions with ethanoyl chloride

  • This reaction type is addition-elimination reaction meaning two molecules join together, and then a small molecule is eliminated - in these examples, hydrogen chloride
    • You do not need to know the mechanism of these reactions
  • The organic product contains a new functional group - amide - in which a carbonyl group is next to an NH group
  • The equation for the reaction of butylamine with ethanoyl chloride is


Reaction with halogenoalkanes

  • Again you do not need to know the mechanism for these reactions
  • The electron-deficient carbon atom in the halogenoalkane and the electron-rich atom nitrogen atom in the amine causes these two species to react together
  • The general formula for this reaction would be

R'NH2 + R"X → R'NHR" + HX

  • Where R' is the alkyl group in the amine and R" is the alkyl group in the halogenoalkane
  • This reaction is an example of a substitution reaction
  • The organic product is a secondary amine and the inorganic product is a hydrogen halide, often hydrogen chloride
  • As an example, the equation for the reaction of butylamine and chloroethane is


  • The organic product contains an electron-rich nitrogen atom, so can also react with chloroethane


  • The organic product of this reaction is a tertiary amine
  • The organic product also contains an electron-rich nitrogen atom, so can also react with chloroethane


  • In this reaction HCl is not formed because this would require the loss of H from the nitrogen from the organic reactant, which the tertiary amine doesn't have
  • The product is an ionic compound related to ammonium chloride except that all the hydrogens in the ammonium ion have been replaced by alkyl groups
    • This is known as a quaternary ammonium salt

Reactions with copper(II) ions

  • Ammonia can act as a lone pair donor in its reactions with transition metal ions
  • For example the overall equation for the reaction of ammonia with hexaaquacopper(II) ions is

[Cu(H2O)6]2+ + 4NH3→ [Cu(NH3)4(H2O)2]2+ + 4H2O

  • Amines also have a lone pair of electrons on the nitrogen, so can take part in similar reactions
  • The observations are the same as with ammonia 
    • A blue precipitate forms
    • With excess butylamine the precipitate dissolves to give a blue solution
  • Formation of the pale blue precipitate

[Cu(H2O)6]2+ + 2CH3CH2CH2CH2NH2 → [Cu(H2O)4(OH)2] + 2CH3CH2CH2CH2NH3+

  • Formation of the deep blue solution

[Cu(H2O)4(OH)2] + 4CH3CH2CH2CH2NH2 → [Cu(CH3CH2CH2CH2NH2)4(H2O)2]2+ + 2H2O +2OH-

Preparation of Primary Aliphatic Amines

Preparing Amines

  • Primary amines can be prepared from different reactions including:
    • The reaction of halogenoalkanes with ammonia
    • The reduction of nitriles

Reaction of halogenoalkanes with ammonia

  • This is a nucleophilic substitution reaction in which the nitrogen lone pair in ammonia acts as a nucleophile and replaces the halogen in the halogenoalkane
  • When a halogenoalkane is reacted with excess, hot ethanolic ammonia under pressure a primary amine is formed


Formation of primary amine

Reduction of nitriles

  • Nitriles contain a -CN functional group which can be reduced to an -NH2 group
  • The nitrile vapour and hydrogen gas are passed over a nickel catalyst or LiAlH4 in dry ether can be used to form a primary amine


Nitriles can be reduced with LiAlH4 or H2 and Ni catalyst