A ketyl group in organic chemistry is an anion radical that contains a group =C-O• in which an oxygen radical is bonded directly to carbon, negatively charged. This molecular entity is very unstable and appears in chemical reactions as a reactive intermediate.
Ketyls can be formed as radical anions by one-electron reduction of carbonyls with alkali metals. Ketyls are also involved in the pinacol coupling reaction and the McMurry reaction. They can also be used as a reagent for determining the presence of small amounts of water. The ketyl molecule is intensely colored.
The ketyl radicals derived from the reaction of sodium and benzophenone is sometimes used a desiccant in distilling solvents. Sodium reduces benzophenone to the soluble ketyl radical, which reacts quickly with the water and oxygen dissolved in the solvent. The deep blue coloration qualitatively indicates dry, oxygen-free conditions. The method, while popular in research laboratories, is inferior in terms of safety and drying effectiveness relative to molecular sieves.
- IUPAC, Compendium of Chemical Terminology, 2nd ed. (the "Gold Book") (1997). Online corrected version: (2006–) "ketyls".
- Williams, D. B. G., Lawton, M., "Drying of Organic Solvents: Quantitative Evaluation of the Efficiency of Several Desiccants", The Journal of Organic Chemistry 2010, vol. 75, 8351. doi: 10.1021/jo101589h