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Explain the role of dry ether in Wurtz reaction.

Last updated date: 13th Jul 2024
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Hint: Diethyl ether that is completely devoid of water is known as dry ether. Ether has a tendency to absorb moisture from the environment. Distilling ether over sodium metal yields dry ether.

Complete answer:
Wurtz's reaction is an organic chemical coupling reaction in which sodium metal reacts with two alkyl halides in the given environmental conditions, a solution of dry ether is used to form a higher alkane, as well as a sodium and halogen-containing compound.
The Wurtz reaction equation can be written in its general form as follows:
\[2R - X + 2Na \to R - R + 2N{a^ + }{X^ - }\]
The two \[R\] groups are combined, resulting in an alkane with a longer chain as well as \[NaX\] , where \[X\] is a Halogen.
Because of the following factors, dry ether is used in the Wurtz reaction:
Since the reaction takes place in the presence of sodium metal, which is extremely reactive, a solvent must be chosen that will not react with the sodium metal.
The alkyl halide also needs to dissolve in the solvent.
The formed sodium halide must be insoluble in a solvent that can be easily dissolved, and the formed alkane must remain in the solution.
The reaction state necessitates the use of an aprotic solvent as the reaction medium. For this, dry ether is an excellent non-polar, aprotic solvent.
As a result, in the Wurtz reaction, dry ether is used.

Because of the potential for side effects, the Wurtz reaction is seldom used. Its application in the synthesis of symmetric alkanes is minimal. In the case of tertiary halides, this reaction fails.