Radical Chain Reaction

Alkanes are the backbone of organic molecules, yet they are almost completely unreactive.

The only reaction alkanes undergo is radical halogenation, the gateway to the rest of organic synthesis.

Alkanes will react with diatomic halogens in the presence of heat, light or any other radical initiator.

  • Think of the radical as a “hot potato” that the alkanes want to keep passing along!

Concept: Explaining the following example problem.


Example: Show the entire chain reaction mechanism for the following Radical Halogenation reaction, predicting which would be the structure of the major alkyl halide produced.