Ace Your Next Organic Chemistry Exam.

With these Downloadable PDF Study Guides

Our Study Guides

Oxidative cleavage of alkenes to give ketones/carboxylic acids using ozone (O3) – (“oxidative workup”)

Description: Ozone will cleave carbon-carbon double bonds to give ketones/carboxylic acids after oxidative workup.

Notes: The initial product of this reaction is an ozonide. Treatment of the ozonide with acid and an oxidant such as hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) will convert any aldehydes to carboxylic acids. Note that any C–H bonds on the alkenes are converted to C–OH bonds, giving carboxylic acids.


Notes: Note how every C–H bond on the alkene is converted into a C–OH bond to give a carboxylic acid. Also note that example 3 shows cleavage of a cyclic alkene to give a linear compound. In example 4, cleavage of a terminal alkene results in CO2.

Mechanism: The first step of the reaction is a cycloaddition of ozone with the alkene (Step 1, arrows A, B, and C). The second step is a reverse cycloaddition, resulting in cleavage of the carbon-carbon single bond (Step 2, arrows D, E, and F). The oxygen of the carbonyl oxide then performs a 1,2-addition on the other carbonyl (Step 3, arrows G and H) giving a negatively charged oxygen that performs a 1,2-addition on the carbonyl carbon of the carbonyl oxide to give the ozonide (Step 4, arrows I and J).

With warming, the ozonide breaks down to the aldehyde and a carbonyl oxide (Step 5, arrows K, L, and M). Addition of peroxide to the aldehyde then occurs (Step 6, arrows N and O). This is followed by proton transfer (Step 7, arrows P and Q) and then removal of a proton with base to give the carbonyl (C=O) (Step 8, arrows R, S, and T).


Notes: There are other reasonable ways to draw this mechanism, particularly other ways of drawing proton transfer in Step 7 and other species that could act as bases in Step 8.