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Diphenyl Ether Essay

1397 words - 6 pages

Diphenyl ether, first gaining attention in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, is an organic compound that belongs to the ether organic functional group with a molecular formula of C12H10O. Also referred to as 1,1’-Oxybisbenzene, biphenyl oxide, diphenyl oxide, phenyl oxide, phenyl ether, or phenoxybenzene, diphenyl ether consists of two phenyl rings attached by an oxygen atom. The structural formula appears in Figure 1. Phenyl rings, C6H5, are extremely similar to benzene rings, C6H6, and only differ in regards to being bonded to a different atom than hydrogen on one vertex of the ring. Thus, diphenyl ether undergoes reactions that are common of phenyl rings and ring structures in general. Until recently, diphenyl ether did not have any interesting properties worth exploration to scientists, but current research focuses on the application of the chemical as part of the conversion of solar energy into usable energy as a means of renewable energy. This particular organic compound represents an anomaly of the ether functional group, participating in various chemical reactions and having an industrial application aside from being a solvent.
The majority of the chemical reactions associated with diphenyl ether relate to the structures of the two phenyl rings of the organic compound due to the lack of reactivity typically associated with ethers. Ethers usually make excellent solvents due to the characteristic lack of reactivity. However, diphenyl ether participates in interesting reactions in spite of the stereotype. First and foremost, the formation of diphenyl ether primarily results from a deviation of Williamson Ether synthesis. These general reactions “involve an alkoxide that reacts with a primary haloalkane or a sulfonate ester” (Patel, n.d.). The generalized Williamson Ether synthesis model appears in Figure 2. In the case of diphenyl ether, one possible synthesis involves the combination of phenol and bromobenzene with a base and catalyst present, forming the diphenyl ether and an ionic compound. Furthermore, the production of phenol through hydrolysis results in diphenyl ether as a secondary product. Industrial companies involved in renewable energy, particularly solar power, induce reactions to produce diphenyl ether as a part of the process to produce energy. Apart from reactions resulting in the formation of diphenyl ether, the organic compound participates in various reactions, including Friedel-Crafts reactions, halogenation, hydroxylation, thermal decomposition, and cleavage reactions. Friedel-Crafts reactions involve the attachment of an alkyl group onto an aromatic ring along with the presence of a catalyst. In hydroxylation, an –OH group replaces the hydrogen atom present at the vertices of the phenyl rings, which produces a polar molecule through the addition of a catalyst due to the generally slow reaction. Thermal decomposition and cleavage reactions mostly take place in the industrial processes involving solar...

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