Benzene is an important starting material for many perfume ingredients. One of the most important perfume ingredients derived from benzene is 2-phenlyethanol. Phenylethanol is a major component of rose oils and is widely used in perfumery for its blending qualities.
There are 2 methods of synthesis of 2-phenlyethanol. Friedel-Crafts addition of ethylene oxide to benzene is a fairly efficient method for its synthesis. Hydrogenation of styrene oxide can also be used. This second method produces a useful intermediate, styrene oxide, which can be used to produce other fragrance materials. Rearrangement of this epoxide gives phenylacetaldehyde, which gives a narcissus-like effect in floral perfumes. Many esters of 2-phenlyethanol are used in perfumery, like acetate, isobutyrate and phenylacetate. These are prepared by esterification of the alcohol.
The synthesis of 2-phenlyethanoland related compounds is shown in the reaction scheme below.
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