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If someone could please give me the hint to how the initial attack is carried out, it'd be a huge help.

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From the article by van Asselt and van Krevelen [1]:

  1. Cyclohexanol is oxidized to cyclohexanone.
  2. The cyclohexanone reacts with the nitrous acid to yield isonitrosocyclohexanone producing 2-nitro-2-nitrosocyclohexanone by reaction with nitric acid.
  3. With attendant ring opening and uptake of water the latter compound is transformed into 6-hydroxyimino-6-nitro hexanoic acid.
  4. More than 90% of it is converted to adipic acid.

Scheme of the adipic acid synthesis

References

  1. van Asselt, W. J.; van Krevelen, D. W. Preparation of Adipic Acid by Oxidation of Cyclohexanol and Cyclohexanone with Nitric Acid: Part I. Reaction Mechanism. Recl. Trav. Chim. Pays-Bas 1963, 82 (1), 51–67. DOI: 10.1002/recl.19630820107.
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