Triethylamine
Overview
 
Triethylamine is the chemical compound
Chemical compound
A chemical compound is a pure chemical substance consisting of two or more different chemical elements that can be separated into simpler substances by chemical reactions. Chemical compounds have a unique and defined chemical structure; they consist of a fixed ratio of atoms that are held together...

 with the formula
Chemical formula
A chemical formula or molecular formula is a way of expressing information about the atoms that constitute a particular chemical compound....

 N(CH2CH3)3, commonly abbreviated Et
Ethyl group
In chemistry, an ethyl group is an alkyl substituent derived from ethane . It has the formula -C2H5 and is very often abbreviated -Et.Ethylation is the formation of a compound by introduction of the ethyl functional group, C2H5....

3N. It is also abbreviated TEA, yet this abbreviation must be used carefully to avoid confusion with triethanolamine
Triethanolamine
Triethanolamine, often abbreviated as TEA, is an organic chemical compound which is both a tertiary amine and a triol. A triol is a molecule with three alcohol groups. Like other amines, triethanolamine is a strong base due to the lone pair of electrons on the nitrogen atom. Triethanolamine can...

, for which TEA is also a common abbreviation.
It is commonly encountered in organic synthesis
Organic synthesis
Organic synthesis is a special branch of chemical synthesis and is concerned with the construction of organic compounds via organic reactions. Organic molecules can often contain a higher level of complexity compared to purely inorganic compounds, so the synthesis of organic compounds has...

 probably because it is the simplest symmetrically trisubstituted amine, i.e. a tertiary amine, that is liquid at room temperature.
Encyclopedia
Triethylamine is the chemical compound
Chemical compound
A chemical compound is a pure chemical substance consisting of two or more different chemical elements that can be separated into simpler substances by chemical reactions. Chemical compounds have a unique and defined chemical structure; they consist of a fixed ratio of atoms that are held together...

 with the formula
Chemical formula
A chemical formula or molecular formula is a way of expressing information about the atoms that constitute a particular chemical compound....

 N(CH2CH3)3, commonly abbreviated Et
Ethyl group
In chemistry, an ethyl group is an alkyl substituent derived from ethane . It has the formula -C2H5 and is very often abbreviated -Et.Ethylation is the formation of a compound by introduction of the ethyl functional group, C2H5....

3N. It is also abbreviated TEA, yet this abbreviation must be used carefully to avoid confusion with triethanolamine
Triethanolamine
Triethanolamine, often abbreviated as TEA, is an organic chemical compound which is both a tertiary amine and a triol. A triol is a molecule with three alcohol groups. Like other amines, triethanolamine is a strong base due to the lone pair of electrons on the nitrogen atom. Triethanolamine can...

, for which TEA is also a common abbreviation.

Properties

It is commonly encountered in organic synthesis
Organic synthesis
Organic synthesis is a special branch of chemical synthesis and is concerned with the construction of organic compounds via organic reactions. Organic molecules can often contain a higher level of complexity compared to purely inorganic compounds, so the synthesis of organic compounds has...

 probably because it is the simplest symmetrically trisubstituted amine, i.e. a tertiary amine, that is liquid at room temperature. It possesses a strong fishy odor reminiscent of ammonia
Ammonia
Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula . It is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent odour. Ammonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or...

 and is also the smell of the hawthorn
Crataegus
Crataegus , commonly called hawthorn or thornapple, is a large genus of shrubs and trees in the rose family, Rosaceae, native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in Europe, Asia and North America. The name hawthorn was originally applied to the species native to northern Europe,...

 plant. Diisopropylethylamine (Hünig’s base) is a widely used relative of triethylamine.

The hydrochloride
Hydrochloride
In chemistry, hydrochlorides are salts resulting, or regarded as resulting, from the reaction of hydrochloric acid with an organic base . This is also known as muriate, derived from hydrochloric acid's other name: muriatic acid....

 salt, triethylamine hydrochloride (triethylammonium chloride), is a colorless, odorless, and hygroscopic powder which decomposes when heated to 261 °C.

Chemistry

Triethylamine is commonly employed in organic synthesis as a base
Base (chemistry)
For the term in genetics, see base A base in chemistry is a substance that can accept hydrogen ions or more generally, donate electron pairs. A soluble base is referred to as an alkali if it contains and releases hydroxide ions quantitatively...

, most often in the preparation of ester
Ester
Esters are chemical compounds derived by reacting an oxoacid with a hydroxyl compound such as an alcohol or phenol. Esters are usually derived from an inorganic acid or organic acid in which at least one -OH group is replaced by an -O-alkyl group, and most commonly from carboxylic acids and...

s and amide
Amide
In chemistry, an amide is an organic compound that contains the functional group consisting of a carbonyl group linked to a nitrogen atom . The term refers both to a class of compounds and a functional group within those compounds. The term amide also refers to deprotonated form of ammonia or an...

s from acyl chloride
Acyl chloride
In organic chemistry, an acyl chloride is an organic compound with the functional group -CO-Cl. Their formula is usually written RCOCl, where R is a side chain. They are usually considered to be reactive derivatives of carboxylic acids. A specific example of an acyl chloride is acetyl chloride,...

s. Such reactions lead to the production of hydrogen chloride
Hydrogen chloride
The compound hydrogen chloride has the formula HCl. At room temperature, it is a colorless gas, which forms white fumes of hydrochloric acid upon contact with atmospheric humidity. Hydrogen chloride gas and hydrochloric acid are important in technology and industry...

 which combines with triethylamine to form the salt triethylamine hydrochloride, commonly called triethylammonium chloride. This reaction removes the hydrogen chloride
Hydrogen chloride
The compound hydrogen chloride has the formula HCl. At room temperature, it is a colorless gas, which forms white fumes of hydrochloric acid upon contact with atmospheric humidity. Hydrogen chloride gas and hydrochloric acid are important in technology and industry...

 from the reaction mixture, which is required for these reactions to proceed to completion (R, R' = alkyl, aryl
Aryl
In the context of organic molecules, aryl refers to any functional group or substituent derived from an aromatic ring, be it phenyl, naphthyl, thienyl, indolyl, etc....

):
R2NH + R'C(O)Cl + Et3N → R'C(O)NR2 + Et3NH+Cl-

Like other tertiary amines, it catalyzes the formation of urethane foams and epoxy resins. It is also useful in dehydrohalogenation
Dehydrohalogenation
Dehydrohalogenation is an organic reaction from which an alkene is obtained from an alkyl halide . It is also called a β-Elimination reaction and is a type of elimination reaction....

 reactions and Swern oxidation
Swern oxidation
The Swern oxidation, named after Daniel Swern, is a chemical reaction whereby a primary or secondary alcohol is oxidized to an aldehyde or ketone using oxalyl chloride, dimethyl sulfoxide and an organic base, such as triethylamine...

s.

Triethylamine is readily alkylated to give the corresponding quaternary ammonium salt
Quaternary ammonium cation
Quaternary ammonium cations, also known as quats, are positively charged polyatomic ions of the structure NR4+, R being an alkyl group or an aryl group. Unlike the ammonium ion and the primary, secondary, or tertiary ammonium cations, the quaternary ammonium cations are permanently charged,...

:
RI + Et3N → Et3NR+I-

Uses

Triethylamine is mainly used in the production of quaternary ammonium compounds
Quaternary ammonium cation
Quaternary ammonium cations, also known as quats, are positively charged polyatomic ions of the structure NR4+, R being an alkyl group or an aryl group. Unlike the ammonium ion and the primary, secondary, or tertiary ammonium cations, the quaternary ammonium cations are permanently charged,...

 for textile auxiliaries and quaternary ammonium salts of dye
Dye
A dye is a colored substance that has an affinity to the substrate to which it is being applied. The dye is generally applied in an aqueous solution, and requires a mordant to improve the fastness of the dye on the fiber....

s. It is also a catalyst and acid neutralizer for condensation reaction
Condensation reaction
A condensation reaction is a chemical reaction in which two molecules or moieties combine to form one single molecule, together with the loss of a small molecule. When this small molecule is water, it is known as a dehydration reaction; other possible small molecules lost are hydrogen chloride,...

s and is useful as an intermediate for manufacturing medicines, pesticide
Pesticide
Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.A pesticide may be a chemical unicycle, biological agent , antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest...

s and other chemicals.

Triethylamine is the active ingredient in FlyNap
FlyNap
FlyNap is an anesthetic mixture produced by the Carolina Biological Supply Company. The product anesthetizes Drosophila melanogaster and other small insects for at least 30 minutes and is commonly used in educational institutes and laboratories for reducing the movement of the fruit flies such...

, a product for anesthetizing Drosophila melanogaster
Drosophila melanogaster
Drosophila melanogaster is a species of Diptera, or the order of flies, in the family Drosophilidae. The species is known generally as the common fruit fly or vinegar fly. Starting from Charles W...

. Triethylamine is used in mosquito and vector control labs to anesthetize mosquitoes. This is done to preserve any viral material that might be present during species identification.

The pKa of protonated triethylamine is 10.65. Triethylamine can be used to prepare buffer solutions.

Also, the bicarbonate
Bicarbonate
In inorganic chemistry, bicarbonate is an intermediate form in the deprotonation of carbonic acid...

 salt of triethylamine (often abbreviated TEAB, triethylammonium bicarbonate) is useful in reverse phase chromatography, often in a gradient to purify nucleotides and other biomolecules.
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