lead(IV) tetraethyl

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A colourless liquid, Pb(C2H5)4, insoluble in water, soluble in benzene, ethanol, ether, and petroleum; r.d. 1.659; m.p. –137°C; b.p. 200°C. It may be prepared by the reaction of hydrogen and ethene with lead but a more convenient laboratory and industrial method is the reaction of a sodium-lead alloy with chloroethane. A more recent industrial process is the electrolysis of ethylmagnesium chloride (the Grignard reagent) using a lead anode and slowly running additional chloroethane onto the cathode. Lead tetraethyl is used in fuel for internal-combustion engines (along with 1,2-dibromoethane) to increase the octane number and reduce knocking. The use of lead(IV) tetraethyl in petrol results in the emission of hazardous lead compounds into the atmosphere. Pressure from environmental groups has encouraged a reduction in the use of lead(IV) tetraethyl and an increasing use of lead-free petrol.

Subjects: Chemistry.

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