Quaternary ammonium cation, class of chemical molecules.
Quaternary ammonium cations, also known as quats, are positively charged polyatomic ions of the structure NR+4, R being an alkyl group or an aryl group. Unlike the ammonium ion (NH+4) and the primary, secondary, or tertiary ammonium cations, the quaternary ammonium cations are permanently charged, independent of the pH of their solution. Quaternary ammonium salts or quaternary ammonium compounds (called quaternary amines in oilfield parlance) are salts of quaternary ammonium cations. Polyquats are a variety of engineered polymer forms which provide multiple quat molecules within a larger molecule.
Quaternary ammonium compounds are prepared by the alkylation of tertiary amines with a halocarbon.
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