An extension of the classic keto−enol tautomerization of β-dicarbonyl compounds into a kinetic analysis of deuterium exchange is presented. It is shown that acetylacetone and ethyl acetoacetate undergo nearly complete deuterium exchange of the α-methylene carbon when dissolved in methanol-d4. The extent of deuteration may be monitored via NMR spectroscopy as a function of time. A mechanism for deuterium exchange is presented and shown to be consistent with a consecutive first-order process. The data for acetylacetone are consistent with steady-state kinetics, whereas those of ethyl acetoacetate illustrate nonsteady-state behavior, offering an accessible example where students might collect and analyze real data to examine the applicability of the steady-state approximation.
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