$250.00 – $4,999.00
|Molar mass||86.090 g·mol−1|
|Density||1.1286 g/mL (15 °C), 1.1296 g/mL (20 °C)|
|Melting point||−43.53 °C (−46.35 °F; 229.62 K)|
|Boiling point||204 °C (399 °F; 477 K)|
Solubility in water
|Solubility||Soluble in CCl4, methanol, ethanol, acetone, benzene, ethyl ether|
Refractive index (nD)
|1.435, 1.4341 (20 °C)|
|Viscosity||1.7 cP (25 °C)|
γ-Butyrolactone (GBL) is a hygroscopic colorless, water-miscible liquid with a weak characteristic odor. It is the simplest 4-carbon lactone. It is mainly used as an intermediate in the production of other chemicals, e.g. methyl-2-pyrrolidone.
In humans GBL acts as a prodrug for γ-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), and it is used as a recreational CNS depressant with effects similar to barbiturates.
GBL has been found in extracts from samples of unadulterated wines. This finding indicates that GBL is a naturally occurring component in some wines and may be present in similar products.
The concentration detected was approximately 5 μg/mL and was easily observed using a simple extraction technique followed by GC/MS analysis. GBL can be found in cheese flavourings but typically results in a content of 0.0002% GBL in the final foodstuff.
γ-Butyrolactone is produced industrially by dehydrogenation of 1,4-butanediol at a temperature of 180–300 °C and atmospheric pressure in the presence of a copper catalyst.
The yield of this process is approximately 95%. The purification takes place with a liquid-gas-phase extraction.
In the laboratory, it may also be obtained via the oxidation of tetrahydrofuran (THF), for example with aqueous sodium bromate. An alternative route proceeds from GABA using the Sandmeyer reaction.
As a lactone, GBL is hydrolyzed under basic conditions, for example in a sodium hydroxide solution into sodium gamma-hydroxybutyrate, the sodium salt of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid. In acidic water, a mixture of the lactone and acid forms coexist in an equilibrium.
These compounds then may go on to form the polymer poly(4-hydroxybutyrate) as well as the dimer 1,6-Dioxecane-2,7-dione. When treated with a non-nucleophilic base, such as lithium diisopropylamide, GBL undergoes deprotonation alpha to the carbonyl. The related compound caprolactone can be used to make a polyester in this manner.
The ring-opening polymerization of butyrolactone gives polybutyrolactone. The resulting reverts to the monomer by thermal cracking. It is claimed that poly(GBL) is competitive with commercial biomaterial poly(4-hydroxybutyrate), or P4HB. It is further claimed that poly(GBL) is cheaper to make than P4HB, although both are bio-derived.
Butyrolactone is principally a precursor to other chemicals. Reaction with methylamine gives NMP. Ammonia gives pyrrolidone. It is also used as a solvent in lotions and some polymers.
Butyrolactone, with its wide liquid range, chemical stability and high dielectric constant, is used in some batteries but primarily is found in electrolytic capacitors as the organic solvent.
In this capacity, it is frequently mixed with a small ratio of ethylene glycol, “9:1” being common, to vary internal resistivity.
Recently GBL has become an important solvent for the development of organic perovskites (such as Methylammonium lead halide), novel solar cell materials that can be processed from solution.
GBL is a good solvent for the precursor salts such as lead halides and methylammonium iodide or formamidinium iodide. Often mixtures of GBL and DMSO yield best results.
GBL is an alternative to the more toxic solvent dimethylformamide that was used in the earlier stages of the development of the perovskite solar
GBL is not active in its own right; its mechanism of action stems from its identity as a prodrug of GHB.
GBL is rapidly converted into GHB by paraoxonase (lactonase) enzymes, found in the blood. Animals which lack these enzymes exhibit no effect from GBL.
GBL is more lipophilic (fat soluble) than GHB, and so is absorbed faster and has higher bioavailability.
Because of these pharmacokinetic differences, GBL tends to be more potent and faster-acting than GHB, but has a shorter duration; whereas the related compound 1,4-butanediol (1,4-B) tends to be slightly less potent, slower to take effect but longer-acting than GHB.
Due to its property of being a prodrug of GHB which increases sleep related growth hormone (GH) secretion, GBL was sold as a nutritional supplement after the scheduling of GHB, under the names Revivarant and Renewtrient until they were banned by the FDA.
GBL is a prodrug of GHB and its recreational use comes entirely as a result of this. GBL overdose can cause irrational behaviour, severe sickness, coma and death.
To bypass GHB restriction laws, home synthesis kits were introduced to transform GBL and/or 1,4-B into GHB.
GBL has a distinctive taste and odour, described as being comparable to stale water, synthetic melon aroma or burnt plastic. This differs significantly from GHB, which is described as having a decidedly “salty” taste.
Due to the fact that those with limited chemistry knowledge can make GBL with easy to get precursors, it has become quite popular among young people in French nightclubs.
If taken undiluted by mouth, GBL can cause esophageal and gastro-intestinal irritation. It is possible for oral ingestion of GBL to cause nausea and other similar problems, possibly more so than with GHB.
GHB has biphasic effects, a euphoric effect at low doses (the reason for the term liquid ecstasy), and a sedative effect at higher doses. As a result of this sedation it can cause unconsciousness.
 When combined with alcohol the increased sedation and risk of vomiting results in a high risk of fatality. Many harm reduction organisations suggest never mixing the two drugs as a result.
There have been news reports of several deaths associated with GBL, usually in combination with alcohol or other depressants.
Frequent use of GHB/GBL, even when taken long-term and in moderate doses, does not appear to cause significant physical dependency in the majority of its users. In many people, quitting or temporarily abstaining from use of the drugs is achieved with minimal or no difficulty.
However, when consumed in excessive amounts with a high frequency of dosing, physical and psychological dependence can develop. Management of GBL dependence involves considering the person’s age, comorbidity and the pharmacological pathways of GBL.
GHB/GBL users can adopt a ’24/7′ dosing regime. This is where the user has become tolerant to the effects of the drug, increasing the dosage and frequency of dosage simply to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
For those users who do report withdrawal symptoms upon quitting the use of GHB/GBL, symptoms seem to depend on the dosage and the length of time the drug was used.
Light to moderate users often experience insomnia and sleep-related problems, whereas heavy, prolonged use can cause severe withdrawal symptoms similar to Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome (BWS).
A milliliter of pure GBL metabolizes to the equivalent 1.65 g of NaGHB, the common form, so doses are measured in the single milliliter range, either taken all at once or sipped over the course of a night.
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