Tetrabutylammonium Bromide

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Chemical Name Tetrabutylammonium Bromide
Synonyms N,N,N-Tributyl-1-butanaminium Bromide; Tetrabutylammonium Bromide; AP 6G; Actiron 43-65; Aliquat 100; Mastermix MB 4988; TBAB; Tetra-n-butylammonium Bromide
CAS Number 1643-19-2
Alternate CAS # 10549-76-5
Molecular Formula C₁₆H₃₆BrN
Appearance White to Off-White Solid
Melting Point 101-104°C
Molecular Weight 322.37
Storage 20°C
Solubility Chloroform, Methanol (Slightly), Water (Slightly)
Category Building Blocks; Catalyst;

Tetrabutylammonium Bromide: Properties, Uses, and Safety


Tetrabutylammonium Bromide (TBAB) is a quaternary ammonium salt that has become a widely used reagent in various fields, including pharmaceuticals, organic synthesis, and electrochemistry. It is known for its high solubility in polar solvents and excellent ability to stabilize intermediate reactive species. This article will explore the properties, uses, and safety of Tetrabutylammonium Bromide.

Properties of Tetrabutylammonium Bromide

  • Physical Properties
    • Molecular Formula: C16H36BrN
    • Molecular Weight: 322.38 g/mol
    • Appearance: White crystalline powder
    • Melting Point: 103-105°C
    • Boiling Point: Decomposes at high temperatures
  • Chemical Properties
    • Solubility: Highly soluble in water, methanol, and other polar solvents
    • Reactivity: It is a strong nucleophile, and it forms stable complexes with many transition metals.

Synthesis of Tetrabutylammonium Bromide

TBAB can be synthesized through a quaternization reaction between n-butylamine and bromobutane in the presence of an alkali metal hydroxide. The reaction produces TBAB and water as a by-product. The process is usually carried out under reflux conditions, and the purity of the product can be improved through recrystallization.

Applications of Tetrabutylammonium Bromide

  • Organic Synthesis: TBAB is commonly used as a phase-transfer catalyst in various organic reactions, including nucleophilic substitution, alkylations, and condensations. Its high solubility in polar solvents allows it to transfer reactive species from one phase to another, making it an effective catalyst for many reactions.
  • Electrochemistry: TBAB is used as a supporting electrolyte in electrochemical studies due to its high ionic conductivity and low viscosity.
  • Pharmaceutical Industry: TBAB is used in the preparation of drug formulations as a solubilizing agent for poorly soluble drugs. It is also used in the preparation of ophthalmic solutions and in intravenous drug delivery systems.

Safety Considerations

TBAB is generally considered safe when handled and used properly. However, it is important to follow appropriate safety precautions, such as wearing protective gloves and eyewear when handling it. TBAB can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system if ingested or inhaled. It is also toxic to aquatic organisms and should not be released into waterways.


Tetrabutylammonium Bromide is a versatile and widely used reagent that finds applications in various fields. Its high solubility in polar solvents and ability to stabilize reactive species make it an effective catalyst for many organic reactions. However, it is important to handle it with care and follow safety precautions to prevent any harm.

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