Thermodynamics of the hydrophobic effect. III. Condensation and aggregation of alkanes, alcohols, and alkylamines

Biophys Chem. 2001 Oct 18;93(1):67-82. doi: 10.1016/s0301-4622(01)00209-5.


Knowledge of the energetics of the low solubility of non-polar compounds in water is critical for the understanding of such phenomena as protein folding and biomembrane formation. Solubility in water can be considered as one leg of the three-part thermodynamic cycle - vaporization from the pure liquid, hydration of the vapor in aqueous solution, and aggregation of the substance back into initial pure form as an immiscible phase. Previous studies on the model compounds n-alkanes, 1-alcohols, and 1-aminoalkanes have noted that the thermodynamic parameters (Gibbs free energy, DeltaG; enthalpy, DeltaH; entropy, DeltaS; and heat capacity, DeltaC(p)) associated with these three processes are generally linear functions of the number of carbons in the alkyl chains. Here we assess the accuracy and limitations of the assumption of additivity of CH(2) group contributions to the thermodynamic parameters for vaporization, hydration, and aggregation. Processes of condensation from pure gas to liquid and aqueous solution to aggregate are compared. Hydroxy, amino, and methyl headgroup contributions are estimated, liquid and solid aggregates are distinguished. Most data in the literature were obtained for compounds with short aliphatic hydrocarbon tails. Here we emphasize long aliphatic chain behavior and include our recent experimental data on long chain alkylamine aggregation in aqueous solution obtained by titration calorimetry and van't Hoff analysis. Contrary to what is observed for short compounds, long aliphatic compound aggregation has a large exothermic enthalpy and negative entropy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohols / chemistry
  • Alkanes / chemistry
  • Amines / chemistry
  • Calorimetry
  • Chemical Precipitation
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Micelles
  • Solubility
  • Surface-Active Agents / chemistry*
  • Temperature
  • Thermodynamics*
  • Titrimetry
  • Water


  • Alcohols
  • Alkanes
  • Amines
  • Micelles
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • Water