Charles Adolphe Wurtz | Discoverer of Wurtz Reaction and Aldol Reaction - WorldOfChemicals

Charles Adolphe Wurtz – discoverer of Wurtz reaction

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Biography & contributions

Charles Adolphe Wurtz, an Alsatian French chemist born on November 26, 1817 – died on May 12, 1884. He synthesized neurine substance and discoverer of aldol reaction and wurtz reaction.

Wurtz had done some important works on

He synthesized chemical compounds like

Chemicals like sal ammoniac and phosphorus pentachloride, in higher temperatures and in the gradual passage from a gas of approximately normal density to one of half-normal density he saw a powerful argument in favor of the view that abnormal vapor densities.

Wurtz reaction

Wurtz reaction can be used in organic chemistry, organometallic chemistry and in polymers. It is a kind of coupling reaction.

The mechanism begins with a single electron transfer (SET) from sodium metal to the alkyl halide, which dissociates to form an alkyl radical and sodium halide salt. Another molecule of sodium performs another SET to the alkyl radical to form a nucleophilic carbanion. The carbanion then attacks another molecule of alkyl halide in a nucleophilic substitution reaction (SN2) to form the final coupled product and another molecule of sodium halide salt.

2R–X + 2Na → R–R + 2Na+X

Aldol reaction

Aldol term is derived from two different chemical groups called aldehyde and alcohol. Aldol reaction is powerful because it unites two relatively simple molecules into a more complex one. A useful carbon-carbon bond-forming reaction known as the Aldol Reaction is best example for electrophilic substitution at the alpha carbon in enolate anions. The fundamental transformation in this reaction is a dimerization of an aldehyde to a beta-hydroxy aldehyde by alpha C–H addition of one reactant molecule to the carbonyl group of a second reactant molecule.


When enolate of an aldehyde or a ketone reacts at the α-carbon with the carbonyl of another molecule under basic or acidic conditions to obtain β-hydroxy aldehyde or ketone, this reaction is called Aldol Reaction.


Neurine is an alkaloid found in egg yolk, brain, bile and in cadavers. It is formed during putrefaction of biological tissues by the dehydration of choline. It is a poisonous, syrupy liquid with a fishy odor. Neurine is a quaternary ammonium salt with three methyl groups and one vinyl group attached to the nitrogen atom.

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