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19.31: Amines to Sulfonamides: The Hinsberg Test

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Organic Chemistry

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Amines to Sulfonamides: The Hinsberg Test

19.31: Amines to Sulfonamides: The Hinsberg Test

The Hinsberg test is a method to identify primary, secondary and tertiary amines, named after its pioneer, Oscar Hinsberg. Here, amines are treated with benzenesulfonyl chloride, also known as the Hinsberg reagent, in the presence of an excess of aqueous base, followed by acidification. Based on the nature of the amines, different changes are observed.

Generally, a primary amine reacts with the Hinsberg reagent to produce an N-substituted benzenesulfonamide. The electron-withdrawing sulfonyl group makes the N–H proton acidic, enabling ready deprotonation in a base to form a water-soluble salt. Further acidification of the clear solution results in the precipitation of an N-substituted benzenesulfonamide.

Secondary amines generate an insoluble N,N-disubstituted sulfonamide upon reaction with benzenesulfonyl chloride. Due to the lack of an N–H proton,  the compound does not react with the base. Tertiary amines do not react with the Hinsberg reagent. However, upon acidification, tertiary amines are protonated and become water-soluble.



Amines Sulfonamides Hinsberg Test Primary Amine Secondary Amine Tertiary Amine Benzenesulfonyl Chloride Hinsberg Reagent Aqueous Base Acidification N-substituted Benzenesulfonamide Electron-withdrawing Sulfonyl Group Deprotonation Water-soluble Salt Insoluble N,N-disubstituted Sulfonamide

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