Posts Tagged ‘sodium chloride’

The mystery of the Finkelstein reaction

Saturday, May 16th, 2009
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This story starts with an organic chemistry tutorial, when a student asked for clarification of the  Finkelstein reaction. This is a simple SN2 type displacement of an alkyl chloride or bromide, using sodium iodide in acetone solution, and resulting in an alkyl iodide. What was the driving force for this reaction he asked? It seemed as if the relatively strong carbon-chlorine bond was being replaced with a rather weaker carbon-iodine bond. But its difficult to compare bond strengths of discrete covalent molecules with energies of ionic lattices. Was a simple explanation even possible?