Nitriles

A nitrile is an organic compound which is also known as Cyano Compound. Nitrile definition, in organic chemistry, is a category of organic compounds attached to the atom of carbon. You can represent the Cyano group as (-C=N).


To get a more specific explanation of the question of what is nitrile, let us move ahead and go through the details below:


Acrylonitrile is a compound that is processed in huge quantities. The procedure called ammoxidation is used for processing nitriles. This process is mostly dependent on the state of oxidation of propylene. At that time, there is the availability of a catalyst along with ammonia. The compound further forms a very significant constituent, precisely of polymeric elements. The component of this compound also includes synthetic rubbers, thermoplastic resins and acrylic fibres and textiles apart from polymeric substances.


There are some compounds of a nitrile that are generally produced by simply heating carboxylic acids along with the compounds of ammonia in the presence of certain catalysts. The whole procedure is ideal for preparing nitriles with the use of fats and oils. Further such products are used in the form of softening agents in different substances like textiles, synthetic rubbers and plastics. 


You can also use these products for the manufacture of amines. Even amides can be heated along with the compounds of phosphorus pentoxide for forming nitrile compounds. These can even be reduced to certain primary amines simply by the reaction of lithium aluminium hydride or by getting them hydrolysed in the form of carboxylic acids. At the same time, there is the availability of a particular base or an acid.

What is Nitrile Structure and Formula?

This image depicts the structure of


R - C \[\equiv\]N  


Nitrile can be defined as an organic chemical containing the Cyano functional subunit or group. Nitrile Structure is CN- where the atoms of nitrogen and carbon have triple bonding or C≡N-. General nitrile formula comes to RCN where R stands for the organic subunit or group.

Understanding the Hydrolysis of Nitriles

The compound nitrile goes through different procedures of reaction. These include reduction, hydrolysis and alkylation. Here we will be getting a clear understanding of all the different varieties of nitrile reactions and specifically the hydrolysis of nitriles. The hydrolysis of nitriles takes place in the availability of a base or an acid. 


The procedure generally makes way for or manufactures carboxylic acids and carboxamides most efficiently. Then there is the reduction of nitriles procedure where nitriles are entirely reduced to tertiary or primary amines simply by treating them in the presence of lithium aluminium hydride. There are different catalysts also used for completing the reduction of nitriles procedure.


The next procedure is nitrile alkylation which produces nitrile anions. In all these procedures, nitriles are treated in one way or the other. It leads to the formation of a certain substance in the presence of a base, acid or catalyst. The other nitrile reactions include Friedel-Crafts acylation and nucleophilic addition reaction. 

The Physical and Chemical Properties of Nitrile

You can segregate the Nitrile properties into two categories, and they are chemical and physical properties. The properties of nitriles are as follows:

  • Nitriles come with boiling points that measure between 82 and 118 degree C.

  • They appear more as colourless liquids and solids with exclusive odours.

  • Nitriles display high electronegativity and polar.

  • They also exhibit very strong dipole to dipole shifts.

  • Nitriles even show the van der Waals dispersion forces between molecules.

  • Nitriles are water-soluble, but their solubility in water decreases with an increase in the chain length.

When it comes to nitrile melting point, acids, oils, and chemicals can easily break down vinyl and latex gloves. But nitriles come with higher tolerance features to such compounds. It also can resist higher temperature ranges in comparison to latex gloves. Nitrile has the potential of bearing with temperatures ranging between -40 and +180 degree C.

Uses of Nitriles

Nitriles are used in different industrial and medical applications. The varied Nitrile uses are as follows:

  • The various compounds of nitriles are applicable in the form of antidiabetic drugs. These drugs are suitable for treating breast cancer.

  • YOu can even use nitriles for manufacturing nitrile seals, gloves and hoses. This is because nitriles are highly resistant to a large number of chemicals.

  • Pericyazine- a nitrile compound is used in the form of an antipsychotic for the treatment of opiate dependence. This nitrile compound can easily be found in several animal and plant sources.

  • Nitriles are also ideal for applications in different oil-resistant elements.

  • They are perfect for situations and settings where work needs to be done at low temperatures.

  • You can also use nitriles in hydraulic hoses, aircraft systems and automotive systems.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the main features of the reactivity of nitriles?

Nitriles can easily polarise with the availability of metal compounds and even metals. They do not seem to be compatible with different acids and mixing them with different varieties of strong and oxidising acids might result in violent reactions. These compounds are also incompatible with the other oxidising elements like epoxides and peroxides. Combining nitriles with bases can result in the production of hydrogen cyanide. Both bases and aqueous acids are suitable for the hydrolysis of nitriles which further leads to the formation of carboxylic acids. Such reactions release heat. Nitriles can be converted into amides with the use of peroxides, and they can even react most vigorously with different reducing elements. Propionitrile, as well as acetonitrile, is soluble in water but the nitriles that are higher in comparison to Propionitrile lag in water solubility.


2. What is the toxicity of nitriles?

The nitriles that are purely alkyl are slightly toxic. But when the highly toxic and dangerous isocyanides contaminate the nitriles, they need to be treated in the form of dangerous poisons. Through ingestion and inhalation as well as skin contact, Nitriles can easily be absorbed. Different nitriles differ in their toxicity. One of the most important things to note about the nitrile called cyanogen is that it can readily be used in fumigants, rocket propellant agents and organic synthesis. However, it is a bit toxic.