-2
$\begingroup$

Do we actually need sulfuric acid to make trinitrotoluene? TNT's formula is $\ce{C7H5N3O6}$ so we just need toluene($\ce{C7H8}$) and nitric acid($\ce{HNO3}$). If we mix them we get TNT, and water($\ce{H2O}$)

$$\ce{C7H8 + 3HNO3 → C7H5N3O6 + 3H2O}$$

But Wikipedia states we need sulfuric acid. Why?

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ Please check an answer as accepted if it has answered your question. $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn
    Sep 11 at 6:29

1 Answer 1

3
$\begingroup$

Sulfuric acid is needed in order for a good electrophile to form. Sulfuric acid protonates nitric acid to form the nitronium ion (water molecule is lost). The nitronium ion is a very good electrophile and is open to attack. Without sulfuric acid the reaction would not occur. Hence, a nitrating mixture of concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids is used to nitrate toluene to mono-, di- and ultimately to trinitrotoluene.

enter image description here

(image source)

$\endgroup$
0

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.