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What is the use of formic acid?

What is the use of formic acid?

Formic acid (collectively referred to as methanesulfonic acid) is the simplest carboxylic acid with the chemical formula HCOOH. It is an important intermediate in chemical synthesis, occurs naturally, and is most commonly found in certain ants.

This passage is going to talk about the followings of formic acid:

(1) Definition of formic acid

(2) How is formic acid made?

(3) Applications of formic acid


(1) Definition of formic acid

Formic acid is an organic substance with a chemical formula of HCOOH and a molecular weight of 46.03. It is commonly known as formic acid and is the simplest carboxylic acid. Colorless liquid with pungent odor. Weak electrolyte, strong acidity, corrosive, can stimulate skin blistering. Exist in the secretions of bees, certain ants and caterpillars. It is an organic chemical raw material and also used as a disinfectant and preservative.

Formic acid is a colorless liquid with a pungent penetrating odor at room temperature, which is different from the related acetic acid. It is miscible with water and most polar organic solvents, and slightly soluble in hydrocarbons. In hydrocarbons and the gas phase, it is composed of hydrogen-bonded dimers rather than individual molecules. Due to its tendency of hydrogen bonding, gaseous formic acid does not conform to the ideal gas law. , Solid formic acid, which can exist in any of two polymorphs, is composed of an effective endless hydrogen-bonded formic acid molecular network. Formic acid and water (22.4%) form a low-boiling azeotrope. Liquid formic acid tends to be too cold.


(2) How is formic acid made?

In 2009, the global annual production capacity of formic acid was 720,000 tons (1.6 billion pounds), roughly equal between Europe (350,000 tons or 770 million pounds, mainly in Germany) and Asia (370,000 tons or 820 million pounds), Mainly in China), and all other continents have annual production of less than 1,000 tons or 2.2 million pounds.

When methanol and carbon monoxide combine in the presence of a strong base, the result is methyl formate, according to the chemical equation:

CH 3 OH + CO→HCO 2 CH 3

Industrially, the reaction is carried out in the liquid phase under high pressure. Typical reaction conditions are 80°C and 40 atm. The most widely used base is sodium methoxide. The hydrolysis of methyl formate produces formic acid:

HCO 2 CH 3 + H 2 O→HCOOH + CH 3 OH

The effective hydrolysis of methyl formate requires a large excess of water. Some routes use methyl formate to carry out ammonia indirectly through the first treatment to obtain formamide, which is then hydrolyzed with sulfuric acid:

HCO 2 CH 3 + NH 3 →HC(O)NH 2 + CH 3 OH

2 HC(O)NH 2 + 2H 2 O + H 2 SO 4 → 2HCO 2 H + (NH 4) 2 SO 4

The disadvantage of this method is the need to treat the ammonium sulfate by-product. This problem has led some manufacturers to develop energy-efficient methods for separating formic acid from excess water used in direct hydrolysis. In one of these methods used by BASF, formic acid is removed from water by liquid-liquid extraction with an organic base.


(3) Applications of formic acid

The main use of formic acid is as a preservative and antibacterial agent in livestock feed.

In Europe, it is used in silage including fresh hay to promote the fermentation of lactic acid and inhibit the formation of butyric acid. It also allows fermentation to proceed quickly at a lower temperature, thereby reducing the loss of nutritional value.

Formic acid can prevent certain decay processes and make the feed maintain its nutritional value for a longer period of time, so it is widely used to preserve winter feed for cattle. In the poultry industry, it is sometimes added to feed to kill E. coli.

Because of its acidity, formic acid is also used extensively in leather production, including tanning, dyeing and finishing textiles.

Formic acid can also be used in various cleaning products instead of mineral acid, such as descaling agents and toilet cleaners. Certain types are made into artificial flavors and essences.

Beekeepers use formic acid as an acaricide to control tracheal mites (Acarapis woodi) and Varroa destructive mites and Varroa jacobsoni mites.

According to reports, the use of formic acid is an effective way to treat warts.

Formic acid can also be used in fuel cells (it can be used directly in formic acid fuel cells or indirectly in hydrogen fuel cells).




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