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Unprecedented alkylation of carboxylic acids by boron trifluoride etherate

N. D. Jumbam
Y. Maganga
W. Masamba
N. I. Mbunye
E. Mgoqi
S. Mtwa


The alkylation of carboxylic acids by an ethyl moiety of boron trifluoride etherate in the absence of ethyl alcohol from the reaction system is unexpected and novel. Both aromatic and aliphatic carboxylic acids were clearly alkylated affording good yields in short reaction times with the exception of nicotinic acid that necessitated an overnight reaction. It was noted that while ortho-substituted hydroxyl groups of carboxylic acids investigated were not affected by alkylation, those of meta- and para-substituted carboxylic acids were partially etherified. Furthermore, the alkylation reaction was found to be compatible with a range of functional groups such as halogens, amino and nitro groups except for the alkene function of undecylenic acid that underwent polymerisation with concomitant alkylation of its carboxylic acid function.


KEY WORDS: Carboxylic acids, Alkylation, Etherification, Functional groups, Boron trifluoride etherate


Bull. Chem. Soc. Ethiop. 2018, 32(2), 387-392.