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In autoprotolysis a proton is transferred between two identical molecules, one of which acts as a Brønsted acid, releasing a proton which is accepted by the other molecule acting as a Brønsted base. For example, water undergoes autoprotolysis in the self-ionization of water reaction.

H2O + H2O is in equilibrium with OH + H3O+

Any solvent that contains both acidic hydrogen and lone pairs of electrons to accept H+ can undergo autoprotolysis.

For example, ammonia in its purest form may undergo autoprotolysis:

2NH3 is in equilibrium with NH2 + NH4+


Gold book, 1994, 66, 1087