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Systematic name Barrelene
Chemical formula C8H8
Molecular mass 104.15 g/mol-1
Density 1.0±0.1 g/cm3
Melting point -46.77°C
Boiling point 153.7±35.0 °C at 760 mmHg
CAS number 500-24-3
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Barrelene is a bicyclic organic compound with chemical formula C8H8 and systematic name bicyclo[2.2.2]octa-2,5,7-triene. First synthesized and described by H. E. Zimmerman in 1960 the name derives from the obvious resemblance with a barrel the staves being three ethylene units attached to two methine groups. Due to its unusual molecular geometry the compound is of considerable interest to theoretical chemists. Like benzene, barrelene has a set of 6 cyclic but not planar overlapping p-orbitals[1] Barrelene is hydrogenated with hydrogen gas and Adams' catalyst in ethanol to the fully saturated bicyclo[2.2.2]-octane. Bromination with bromine in tetrachloromethane gives a di-bromo adduct because a coupling reaction intervenes. Epoxidation of barrelene with oxone gives the trioxatrishomobarrelene which on rearrangement with boron trifluoride (driving force:relief of strain energy) converts into the trioxatrishomocubane. This compound can be envisioned as a cubane with three oxygen atoms inserted into three opposite edges or as 9-crown-3 capped by two methine units. The molecule is chiral and the separate enantiomers have been isolated. The catalyst is a Fischer carbene (a molybdenum bis-(hexafluoro-tert-butoxy) carbene catalyst) and the long alkyl chain attached to the monomer is required for solubility. Oxidation of the polymer with DDQ affords the naphthalene pendant of polyphenylene vinylene. Isopentane solutions of barrelene undergo photolytic isomerisation when acetone is added as a photosensitizer to produce semibullvalene. Prolonged irradiation results in further isomerisation to form cyclooctatetraene.[2]


A chart of Barrelene's synthesis

A synthesis of barrelene (bicyclo[2.2.2]-2,5,7-octatriene) was accomplished nearly fifty years ago by H. Zimmerman (Wisconsin), using a double Hofmann elimination. The chemical behavior of this triene confirmed it was not aromatic in the accepted sense of this term. Bromine addition took place rapidly with transannular bond formation, in the same fashion as with norbornadiene (bicyclo[2.2.1]-2,5-heptadiene). Pyrolysis of barrelene gives the expected cycloreversion products benzene and acetylene. The heat of hydrogenation of barrelene reflects its thermodynamic stability. The value for cyclohexene is -28 kcal/mol, significantly less than one third of the barrelene number. Furthermore, the first double bond of barrelene is reduced with the release of 36.7 kcal/mol heat, indicating destabilization rather than stabilization. An explanation for the lack of aromatic behavior in the case of barrelene may be found by comparing the orbital symmetry of the six component p-orbitals with those of benzene. Benzene is an annulene in which all six p-orbitals may be oriented with congruent overlapping phases. The cylindrical array of p-orbitals in barrelene cannot be so arranged, as shown in the diagram on the right. There will always be one region (a nodal plane) in which the transannular overlap is incongruent. [3]


The shape of Barrelene resembles a barrel.

Certain barrelenes have been used as a monomer in a ring opening metathesis polymerisation. [4]


The proper way to pronounce Barrelene shown by a video.


  1. Barrelene ChemEurope. Web. Accessed April 17, 2016. Unknown Author.
  2. Unknown Author. Barrelene chem103csu. Web. Accessed April 17, 2016.
  3. Aromatic Systems and Factors Required for Aromaticity UCDavis ChemWiki. Web. Accessed May 1, 2016. Reusch, William.
  4. Barrelene ChemEurope. Web. Accessed May 1, 2016. Author Unknown