Volume 50, Issue 1 (January 2005)
Structural Determination of the Principal Byproduct of the Lithium-Ammonia Reduction Method of Methamphetamine Manufacture
One common method- of illicit methamphetamine manufacture utilizes an alkali metal, typically lithium, and liquid ammonia to chemically reduce ephedrine or pseudoephedrine to form methamphetamine. This method is often referred to as the lithium-ammonia reduction method or the Birch reduction method. While the hydroxyl group of ephedrine is more reactive than the aromatic ring, excess alkali metal and the presence of a proton source allow the formation of a cyclohexadiene byproduct not found in samples of methamphetamine produced from other manufacturing methods. A sample enriched in this byproduct was generated and characterized using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), infrared (IR) spectrophotometry, and ultraviolet (UV) spectrophotometry. The chemical structure of this byproduct was determined to be 1-(1ʹ,4ʹ-cyclohexadienyl)-2-methylaminopropane (CMP).