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Bromination of alkenes with Br2 to give dibromides

Description: Treatment of alkenes with bromine (Br2) gives vicinal dibromides (1,2-dibromides). 

Notes: The bromines add to opposite faces of the double bond (“anti addition”). Sometimes the solvent is mentioned in this reaction – a common solvent is carbon tetrachloride (CCl4). CCl4 actually has no effect on the reaction, it’s just to distinguish this from the reaction where the solvent is H2O, in which case a bromohydrin is formed (see also).

Notes: Again note that in the first example CCl4 is merely the solvent and in these cases has no effect on the reaction (unlike when water or alcohols are the solvent – see bromohydrin formation page).


Attack of the alkene on bromine (Step 1, arrows A and B) gives the bromonium ion, which is attacked at the backside by bromide ion to give the trans-dibromo product. Note that the bromines are delivered to opposite sides of the alkene (“anti” addition).

Notes: Note that a 1:1 mixture of enantiomers will be formed in this reaction. The enantiomer formed will depend on which face of the alkene the bromine adds to.