Mechanistic aspects of the nucleophilic substitution of pectin. On the formation of chloromethane.

Yerbolat Sailaukhanuly, Zsuzsa Sárossy, Lars Carlsen, Helge Egsgaard

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Chloromethane, accounting for approximately 16% of the tropospheric chlorine, is mainly coming from natural sources. However anthropogenic activities, such as combustion of biomass may contribute significantly as well. The present study focuses on the thermal solid state reaction between pectin, an important constituent of biomass, and chloride ions as found in alkali metal chlorides. The formation of chloromethane is evident with the amount formed being linear with respect to chloride if pectin is in great excess. Thus the reaction is explained as a pseudo first order SN2 reaction between the chloride ion and the methyl ester moiety in pectin. It is suggested that the polymeric nature of pectin plays an active role by an enhanced transport of halides along the carbohydrate chain. Optimal reaction temperature is around 210 °C. At higher temperatures the yield of chloromethane decreases due to a thermal decomposition of the pectin. The possible influence of the type of cation is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-579
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Biomass
  • Pectin
  • Chloromethane
  • Alkali metal chlorides
  • GC–MS


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