Dictionary Definition

decarboxylation n : the process of removing a carboxyl group from a chemical compound (usually replacing it with hydrogen)

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The removal of one or more carboxyl groups from a molecule

Related terms

Extensive Definition

Decarboxylation is any chemical reaction in which a carboxyl group (-COOH) is split off from a compound as carbon dioxide (CO2).
Other decarboxylation reactions from the citric acid cycle include:
Enzymes that catalyze decarboxylations are called decarboxylases or, more formally, carboxy-lyases (EC number 4.1.1).

In organic chemistry

In retrosynthesis, decarboxylation reactions can be considered the opposite of homologation reactions, in that the chain length becomes one carbon shorter.
Chemical decarboxylations reactions often require extensive heating in high-boiling solvents. Copper salts are often added as catalysts. Heating a carboxylic acid strongly with soda lime is also able to effect decarboxylation. Heating the product of the malonic ester synthesis with hydrochloric acid also affords decarboxylation. The addition of catalytic amounts of cyclohexen-2-one has been reported to catalyze the decarboxylation of amino acids.
Decarboxylations are especially easy for beta-keto acids due to the formation of a cyclic transition state for instance in Knoevenagel condensations. The Barton decarboxylation and Hunsdiecker reaction are radical reactions.
Kolbe electrolysis — the electrolysis of salts of carboxylic acids give the decarboxylated dimer products:
CH3COOH → CH3COO− → CH3COO· → CH3· + CO2
2CH3· → CH3CH3
This reaction occurs via a radical mechanism as well.


decarboxylation in Czech: Dekarboxylace
decarboxylation in German: Decarboxylierung
decarboxylation in Spanish: Descarboxilación
decarboxylation in French: Décarboxylation
decarboxylation in Italian: Decarbossilazione
decarboxylation in Dutch: Decarboxylering
decarboxylation in Japanese: 脱炭酸
decarboxylation in Portuguese: Descar­boxilação
decarboxylation in Swedish: Dekarboxylering
decarboxylation in Chinese: 脱羧反应
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