Chemistry Formulas

Acetonitrile Formula

Acetonitrile is an organic chemical compound. It is the simplest organic nitrile. Mainly it is a byproduct in acrylonitrile manufacture. Also, we use it as a polar aprotic solvent in organic synthesis and in the purification of butadiene. The French chemist Jean-Baptiste Dumas firstly prepared it in 1847. Learn Acetonitrile Formula here.

Acetonitrile formula and structure

The chemical formula of acetonitrile is CH3CN and its condensed formula is C2H3N. Furthermore, its molar mass is 41.05 g/mol. Scientists classify it as a nitrile (CN) in terms of its functional group. Besides, a nitrile is a carbon atom that contains a triple bond to a nitrogen atom.

A second carbon atom is a methyl group (-CH3) that bonds three hydrogen atoms. The central carbon atom has a triple bond to the nitrogen atom, the bond angle between the methyl group carbon, the central atom, and nitrogen atom is 180 degrees. The chemical structure of acetonitrile is:

Acetonitrile Formula

Acetonitrile Occurrence

It is a byproduct that forms in the manufacturing of acrylonitrile. It is a derivative of acetic acid and is usually exists in aqueous solution.

Also, it is a secondary product in finding acrylonitrile from propylene ammoxidation or waste streams in the extraction process, chromatography, etc. Whereas we can also find other compounds like benzene, alcohol, and methanol.

Acetonitrile Preparation

Generally, the production trends for acetonitrile follow those of acrylonitrile. Other methods of preparation include the dehydration of acetamide or by hydrogenation of mixtures of carbon monoxide and ammonia. Besides, catalytic ammoxidation of ethylene also produces acetonitrile.

Acetonitrile physical properties

Its physical appearance is a colorless clear liquid with an aromatic odor. It is a weak base that has a density of 0.783 g/cm3. The melting point is between -46 to -44oC and the boiling point is 81.3 to 82.1oC. It is miscible in water.

Acetonitrile Chemical Properties

It is a nitrile (hydrogen cyanide) in which a methyl group replaces the hydrogen. Also, it a polar compound which means its atoms have the ability to attract electrons towards themselves. Moreover, the nitrogen atom is more electronegative than the carbon atom.

Acetonitrile Uses

Notably, it serves as a two-carbon building block in organic synthesis. Chemists use them as starting materials while constructing large and complex molecules. Also, it allows two carbon atoms and nitrogen atoms to be added. The most common use of acetonitrile is as a solvent for both reactions and compound purification applications.

Due to its polar nature, the compound allows it to successfully solvate a wide range of organic compounds. Besides, the high boiling point makes it best for conducting reactions at elevated temperatures. It is a highly flammable and liquid and vapor and has acute toxicity when coming in contact with skin. Also, it can cause serious eye damage and eye irritation.

Its common use in compound purification is an analytical chemistry application, especially in high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). In addition, it has been used in the formulation of nail polish remover. Moreover, industries use them to manufacture pharmaceuticals, rubber products, perfumes, pesticides, and batteries.

Safety and Health Hazards

Acetonitrile has modest toxicity in small doses. Also, it can be metabolized to form hydrogen cyanide that has toxic effects. The onset of toxic effects is delayed because generally, it requires time for the body to metabolize acetonitrile to cyanide. It can cause irritation in the eyes, throat, lungs, and nose.

Its long term effects include enlargement of the thyroid gland, headaches numbness, lack of appetite, dizziness, weakness, and tremor. Scientists observe reproductive problems in animals like increased birth defects, lower birth weight. Long term exposure to acetonitrile can affects the liver, lungs, central nervous system, and kidneys.

Solved Example For You

Question: State the method of preparing bis(acetonitrile)palladium dichloride?

Solution: We can prepare bis(acetonitrile)palladium dichloride by heating a suspension of palladium chloride in acetonitrile:

PdCl2 + 2CH3CN → PdCl2(CH3CN)2

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