Nitration is one of the most studied and best understood of organic reactions. Both aromatic and aliphatic compounds can be nitrated by various methods such as heterolytic (electrophilic and nucleophilic) and radical nitrations. Aromatic nitration is most frequently electrophilic; aliphatic is free radical. Nitroaromatic compounds are of substantial use as intermediates in the synthesis of plastics, pharmaceuticals, dyestuffs, explosives, insecticides, etc.; nitroaliphatics are used as solvents and synthons in organic synthesis. The most common nitrating mixtures are the nitric acid /sulfuric acid combinations, but many different ways are known from the literature.

Nowadays the subject of nitration is still of substantial interest and activity, therefore to find more effective, selective nitration methods are investigated continuously. Selectivity can be a challenge in nitrations because as a rule more than one compound may result but only one is desired, so alternative products act as contaminants or are simply wasted. Accordingly, it is desirable to design syntheses with suitable selectivity; for example, by controlling the reaction conditions.

Nitration, IceCube Reactor
Nitration with the IceCube™ Reactor

The flow technology, and especially ThalesNano’s IceCube™ reactor is one of the tools to revise the current knowledge from the nitrations. Because of the continuous flow technology the time consuming acid mixture preparation can be managed on an easy and continuous way, and the proper control of the residence time gives the chance to produce more selectively nitrated products than previously. For more information on the IceCube™, please click here.