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Astrobiology. 2004 Summer;4(2):211-24.

Condensation reactions and formation of amides, esters, and nitriles under hydrothermal conditions.

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Environmental and Petroleum Geochemistry Group, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA.


Hydrothermal pyrolysis experiments were performed to assess condensation (dehydration) reactions to amide, ester, and nitrile functionalities from lipid precursors. Beside product formation, organic compound alteration and stability were also evaluated. Mixtures of nonadecanoic acid, hexadecanedioic acid, or hexadecanamide with water, ammonium bicarbonate, and oxalic acid were heated at 300 degrees C for 72 h. In addition, mixtures of ammonium bicarbonate and oxalic acid solutions were used to test the abiotic formation of organic nitrogen compounds at the same temperature. The resulting products were condensation compounds such as amides, nitriles, and minor quantities of N-methylalkyl amides, alkanols, and esters. Mixtures of alkyl amide in water or oxalic acid yielded mainly hydrolysis and dehydration products, and with ammonium bicarbonate and oxalic acid the yield of condensation products was enhanced. The synthesis experiments with oxalic acid and ammonium bicarbonate solutions yielded homologous series of alkyl amides, alkyl amines, alkanes, and alkanoic acids, all with no carbon number predominances. These organic nitrogen compounds are stable and survive under the elevated temperatures of hydrothermal fluids.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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