Main: Dimethylamine is an organic compound with the formula (CH3)2NH. This secondary amine is a colorless, flammable liquified gas with an ammonia-like odor. Dimethylamine is generally encountered as a solution in water at concentrations up to around 40%. In 2005, an estimated 270,000 tons were produced.
Structure and properties
The molecule consists of a nitrogen atom with two methyl substituents and one proton. Dimethylamine is a base and the pKa of the ammonium salt CH3-NH2+-CH3 is 10.73, a value above methylamine (10.64) and trimethylamine (9.79). Dimethylamine reacts with acids to form salts, such as dimethylamine hydrochloride, an odorless white solid with a melting point of 171.5 °C. Dimethylamine is produced by catalytic reaction of methanol and ammonia at elevated temperatures and high pressure:
2 CH3OH + NH3 → (CH3)2NH + 2 H2O
Dimethylamine is a precursor to several industrially significant compounds. It reacts with carbon disulfide to give dimethyldithiocarbamate, a precursor to a family of chemicals widely used in the vulcanization of rubber. The solvents dimethylformamide and dimethylacetamide are derived from dimethylamine. It is raw material for the production of many agrichemicals and pharmaceuticals, such as dimefox and diphenhydramine, respectively. The chemical weapon tabun is derived from dimethylamine. The surfactant lauryl dimethylamine oxide is found in soaps and cleaning compounds. Unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine, a rocket fuel, is prepared from dimethylamine.
The German cockroach utilizes dimethylamine as a pheromone for communication. DMA undergoes nitrosation under weak acid conditions to give dimethylnitrosamine. This animal carcinogen has been detected and quantified in human urine samples and it may also arise from nitrosation of DMA by nitrogen oxides present in acid rain in highly industrialized countries.