Nitrobenzene: Structure, Formula & Uses

Instructor: Laura Foist

Laura has a Masters of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition and has taught college Science.

In this lesson, we will learn about nitrobenzene, an aromatic derivative of benzene. We will learn about its properties, how it is produced, and how it is typically used.

Nitrobenzene Properties and Uses

When working with nitrobenzene, we must be very careful because it is extremely toxic. Although it has a pleasant almond-like smell, it will not be good to ingest, inhale, or even to spread on your skin. It can be used commercially to cover up other unpleasant smells, as long as it will not be used for human or animal consumption. Due to its toxicity, it is not frequently used as nitrobenzene, but instead it is used as a precursor for another compound, aniline.

The parent compound of nitrobenzen, benzene, is a very stable compound since it is fully conjugated. So, it can be very difficult to add substituents onto the benzene if that conjugation is disturbed. Some substituents make it even more stable by furthering the conjugation, and this is why reactions move towards these products. Nitrobenzene is one of these substituents since pie bonding on the nitrogen and both oxygens allows electrons to be shared on the nitrogen and each oxygen. Nitrobenzene deactivates the benzene ring so that it is even less reactive to nitration, halogenation, and sulfonation. And, reactions are only able to occur at the meta-position, which further decreases the reactivity of benzene.

Although the benzene ring is now very unreactive, the nitro portion is able to react further to make aniline. By reducing the nitro to a primary amine, using a strong acid (such as HCl) in an oxygen/reduction reaction aniline can be produced. This is the most common use of nitrobenzene (approximately 97% of nitrobenzene is used to produce aniline). Aniline is a precursor for rubber, pesticides, explosives, and many other products.

Aniline is made by reducing the nitro group on the benzene
Aniline

The remaining 3% of nitrobenzene is used as a solvent in electrophilic reactions or as a mask for unpleasant smells in paints, floor polishes, and other unpleasant-smelling compounds. But, it is very toxic and readily absorbed into the skin, making it not very useful in many compounds.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support