(i) Carbylamine reaction
Carbylamine reaction is used as a test for the identification of primary amines. When aliphatic and aromatic primary amines are heated with chloroform and ethanolic potassium hydroxide, carbylamines (or isocyanides) are formed. These carbylamines have very unpleasant odours. Secondary and tertiary amines do not respond to this test.
Aromatic primary amines react with nitrous acid (prepared in situ from NaNO2 and a mineral acid such as HCl) at low temperatures (273-278 K) to form diazonium salts. This conversion of aromatic primary amines into diazonium salts is known as diazotization.
For example, on treatment with NaNO2 and HCl at 273−278 K, aniline produces benzenediazonium chloride, with NaCl and H2O as by-products.
(iii) Hoffmann bromamide reaction
When an amide is treated with bromine in an aqueous or ethanolic solution of sodium hydroxide, a primary amine with one carbon atom less than the original amide is produced. This degradation reaction is known as Hoffmann bromamide reaction. This reaction involves the migration of an alkyl or aryl group from the carbonyl carbon atom of the amide to the nitrogen atom.
(iv) Coupling reaction
The reaction of joining two aromatic rings through the −N=N−bond is known as coupling reaction. Arenediazonium salts such as benzene diazonium salts react with phenol or aromatic amines to form coloured azo compounds.
It can be observed that, the para-positions of phenol and aniline are coupled with the diazonium salt. This reaction proceeds through electrophilic substitution.
When an alkyl or benzyl halide is allowed to react with an ethanolic solution of ammonia, it undergoes nucleophilic substitution reaction in which the halogen atom is replaced by an amino (−NH2) group. This process of cleavage of the carbon-halogen bond is known as ammonolysis.
When this substituted ammonium salt is treated with a strong base such as sodium hydroxide, amine is obtained.
Though primary amine is produced as the major product, this process produces a mixture of primary, secondary and tertiary amines, and also a quaternary ammonium salt as shown.
Acetylation (or ethanoylation) is the process of introducing an acetyl group into a molecule.
Aliphatic and aromatic primary and secondary amines undergo acetylation reaction by nucleophilic substitution when treated with acid chlorides, anhydrides or esters. This reaction involves the replacement of the hydrogen atom of −NH2 or > NH group by the acetyl group, which in turn leads to the production of amides. To shift the equilibrium to the right hand side, the HCl formed during the reaction is removed as soon as it is formed. This reaction is carried out in the presence of a base (such as pyridine) which is stronger than the amine.
When amines react with benzoyl chloride, the reaction is also known as benzoylation.
(vii) Gabriel phthalimide synthesis
Gabriel phthalimide synthesis is a very useful method for the preparation of aliphatic primary amines. It involves the treatment of phthalimide with ethanolic potassium hydroxide to form potassium salt of phthalimide. This salt is further heated with alkyl halide, followed by alkaline hydrolysis to yield the corresponding primary amine.