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Are E1 elimination reactions possible from a trans dihalide alkane (like 1,2-dibromoethane) all the way to the alkyne (like acetylene)? Or is only E2 possible from the alkene to alkyne? What is the rate of reaction?

My thoughts are that E1 is a possible reaction to form the alkyne, with E2 taking place if there are any anti peri-planar hydrogens and a strong base. So, another question might be that which of these has the faster rate of reaction - an E1 reaction or an E2 reaction with anti periplanar hydrogens that are only available through conformational energies and torsional strain?

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  • $\begingroup$ What is the proposed E1 intermediate? Do you have any idea if this is a high-energy intermediate? $\endgroup$ – Lighthart Mar 3 '16 at 19:17
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Yes, in your example, it is possible to form acetylene. E1 mechanism does not depend on whether the leaving group is anti to $\ce{H}$ or not.

All vicinal halides will not give alkynes, as E1 mechanism involves a carbocation intermediate which can rearrange to the most stable position. Example: In 4-methyl-2,3-dibromopentane, the product will be a conjugated alkene not alkyne.

Rate of E1 elimination depends on the stability of the carbocation whereas rate of E2 mechanism does not. Since in your example, the carbocation formed is a 1 degree, it is not very stable so the rate will be higher for E2 mechanism.

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