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Methods Of Preparation Of Phenols, Important Topics For JEE Main 2024

Phenols, a class of organic compounds distinguished by the presence of a hydroxyl group (-OH) directly attached to an aromatic ring, possess unique properties and serve as versatile intermediates in the synthesis of various chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and dyes. This article comprehensively explores the various methods of phenol preparation, encompassing their mechanisms, advantages, and limitations. By mastering these methods, students will gain a thorough understanding essential for excelling in the upcoming JEE Main 2024 examination.

Phenols, a vital class of aromatic compounds, are characterized by a hydroxyl group attached to a benzene ring. These compounds find applications in numerous industries, including pharmaceuticals, dyes, plastics, and agrochemicals. Given their significance, JEE Main 2024 dedicates a significant portion to the study of phenols, emphasizing the diverse methods employed in their synthesis. This article delves into the key methods of phenol preparation, providing a holistic understanding of their mechanisms, merits, and drawbacks. By comprehending these methods, aspirants will strengthen their conceptual grasp and enhance their problem-solving skills, thereby boosting their chances of success in the upcoming examination.

Important Topics for JEE Main 2024

The following topics related to the preparation of phenols are important for JEE Main 2024:

  • Basic concepts of phenols
  • Nomenclature of phenols
  • Physical and chemical properties of phenols
  • Methods of preparation of phenols
  • Industrial production of phenol
  • Applications of phenols

It is recommended to thoroughly understand these topics and practice solving problems related to them, as they are likely to appear in JEE Main 2024.# Methods Of Preparation Of Phenols, Important Topics For JEE Main 2024

Cumene Process

The cumene process, a widely adopted industrial method for phenol production, involves a series of steps:

  • Alkylation of benzene with propylene forms cumene.
  • Air oxidation of cumene yields cumene hydroperoxide.
  • Acid-catalyzed rearrangement of cumene hydroperoxide produces phenol and acetone.

Process Highlights:

  • Widely Utilized in Industry: The cumene process is extensively employed for large-scale phenol production due to its efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
  • Sequential Steps: Alkylation, oxidation, and rearrangement reactions occur sequentially to convert benzene into phenol.
  • Acetone as a Byproduct: The formation of acetone as a byproduct is not only a valuable product in itself but also aids in covering the production costs.

Dow Process

The Dow process, an alternative method for phenol synthesis, entails the following sequence:

  • Chlorination of benzene leads to the formation of chlorobenzene.
  • Acid-catalyzed hydrolysis of chlorobenzene yields phenol.

Process Highlights:

  • Versatile Feedstocks: The Dow process accommodates various feedstocks, including benzene, chlorobenzene, and dichlorobenzene.
  • Simple and Efficient: The process is characterized by its simplicity and efficiency, making it suitable for industrial applications.
  • Direct Conversion of Benzene: Unlike the cumene process, the Dow process directly converts benzene into phenol, eliminating the need for intermediate steps.

Raschig Process

The Raschig process involves a series of reactions:

  • Fusion of sodium benzenesulfonate with sodium hydroxide results in the formation of sodium phenolate.
  • Acidification of sodium phenolate yields phenol.

Process Highlights:

  • Utilization of Sodium Benzenesulfonate: The Raschig process relies on sodium benzenesulfonate, a readily available and relatively inexpensive starting material.
  • Facile Conversion: The conversion of sodium benzenesulfonate to phenol is relatively straightforward and does not require specialized equipment or harsh conditions.
  • Historical Significance: While the Raschig process is less commonly used today, it holds historical significance as one of the earliest methods for phenol synthesis.

Synthesis from Aniline

The synthesis of phenol from aniline encompasses the following steps:

  • Nitration of aniline yields nitrobenzene.
  • Reduction of nitrobenzene forms phenylhydroxylamine.
  • Rearrangement of phenylhydroxylamine produces phenol.

Process Highlights:

  • Versatile Starting Material: Aniline serves as a versatile starting material, readily available and accessible through various synthetic routes.
  • Multistep Process: The conversion of aniline to phenol involves a series of steps, potentially leading to lower yields and increased production costs.
  • Utilization of Hazardous Chemicals: The use of nitrobenzene and phenylhydroxylamine, both potentially hazardous compounds, poses safety concerns and requires appropriate handling and disposal procedures.

Peroxide Oxidation of Alkylbenzenes

The peroxide oxidation of alkylbenzenes, a free radical-initiated process, involves the following stages:

  • Alkylation of benzene with an appropriate alkyl halide forms alkylbenzene.
  • Peroxide-induced radical chain reaction oxidizes alkylbenzene, leading to the formation of a hydroperoxide intermediate.
  • Rearrangement of the hydroperoxide yields phenol.

Process Highlights:

  • Wide Range of Starting Materials: This method accommodates a variety of alkylbenzenes as starting materials, offering flexibility in feedstock selection.
  • Radical Chain Reaction: The peroxide-induced radical chain reaction is a versatile process, enabling the synthesis of phenols under mild reaction conditions.
  • Harsh Conditions: The use of peroxides and elevated temperatures may require specialized equipment and stringent safety protocols.


The preparation of phenols encompasses diverse methods, each characterized by unique mechanisms, advantages, and limitations. The cumene process, widely employed in industry, stands out for its efficiency and cost-effectiveness. The Dow process offers versatility in feedstock selection and straightforward conversion. The Raschig process, while historically significant, is less commonly utilized today. Synthesis from aniline provides an alternative route to phenols, but requires multistep transformations and involves hazardous chemicals. Peroxide oxidation of alkylbenzenes allows for the use of a wide range of starting materials and proceeds via a free radical chain reaction. By comprehensively understanding these methods, JEE Main 2024 aspirants will gain the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in the upcoming examination.

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