What Is Dehydrogenation?

Also referred to as retrograde hydrogenation, dehydrogenation is a chemical process through which hydrogen is detached from a molecule or compound. An opposite reaction to hydrogenation, it is a strongly endothermic reaction that involves hydrogen removal, either using conventional oxidants, hydrogen transfer reactions or reflux conditions. Immediate oxidation of the resultant hydrogen leads to conversion of reactants to products and production of heat necessary for the reaction to occur.

There are various types of dehydrogenation reactions. They include but are not limited to the following: aromatization, which is the conversion of non-aromatic compounds into aromatic compounds in the presence of catalysts; amine dehydrogenation, whereby amines are converted into nitriles various and reagents are used for the conversion, including IF5; and hydrogenolysis, when an organic compound is broken down by the reaction of hydrogen in the presence of a catalyst and a solvent.

Dehydrogenation forms the basic reaction for the production of many organic compounds, including the manufacture of elastomers, lubricants and plastics among others. Among the applications with immense industrial benefit is the dehydrogenation of light paraffin to produce the corresponding olefins for the manufacture of ethyl benzene and linear-alkyl-benzenes. These are the fundamental building blocks for the production of plastics and lubricants.